German Court Hands Down Severe Sentences in Jewish Bank Case

After a trial which lasted about ten months, all principal defendants in the case of the former “Jewish Restitution Bank” here were sentenced today to terms that caused astonishment because of their severity.

Dr. Joseph Klibansky, generally considered Germany’s best known Jewish attorney, was sentenced to eighteen months jail in addition to a fine of $4,500 for being an accessory to violation of foreign currency regulations and of certain provisions of the corporation law.

Wilhelm Marrien, originally technical advisor of the bank and later its manager, received 10 months imprisonment for infringement of the corporation law, for being accessory to violation of foreign currency regulations and for bribery.

Dr. Hans Erwin Wolf, who was appointed by the State as custodian of the bank, received six months imprisonment for corruption. Wolfgang Steege, a German banker from Hamburg, was fined $600 for being accessory to violation of foreign currency regulations. Cashier Siefreid Frohlich was let off with a fine of $100.

Dr. Klibansky, was found guilty of having aided and abetted the transfer of blocked mark accounts to their Jewish owners abroad, a transaction which was illegal at the time, in 1950, but which was legalized a few months after the Jewish Restitution Bank was shut down. The violation of the corporation law refers to issue of receipts to cover up the withdrawal of blocked mark funds.

Dr. Klibansky was also convicted of having, as a member of the bank’s board of directors, contributed to its bankruptcy although the bank’s assets exceed its debts even today. The court found, however, that there was no evidence that Dr. Klibansky had enriched himself, or had personally violated foreign currency regulations.

Dr. Klibansky, who will file an appeal with the Supreme Court, issued a statement asserting that Judge Hoffmeyer, who issued the verdict, had been unable to overcome his resentment at having been placed in an internment camp at the end of the war because he had been a member of the Nazi Party and a judge throughout the Nazi regime. Dr. Klibansky also pointed out in his statement that the jurors had not been properly sworn in and that one of them was removed from the jury only last month for endeavoring to engage in illicit foreign currency deals. “The verdict is certain to be vacated by the Supreme Court,” Dr. Klibansky concluded.

A representative of the Hesse Jewish Community in the Central Council of Jews in Germany commented after the judgment that he would seek the express confirmation of Dr. Klibansky as legal advisor of the Association of Jewish Communities in Hesse and would resign from his office unless that demand were accepted.

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