STUTTGART (Aug. 5)
Otto Kuester, Commissioner for Indemnification Questions in Baden-Wuerttemberg, was summarily dismissed today on charges of “disparagement of government and individual ministers.”
Suspended a month ago, Kuester was known in Germany as perhaps the last of the high-ranking German officials insisting that the indemnification program must be based on moral principles.
One of the officials known to have brought heavy pressure on the Baden-Wuerttenberg government for Kuester’s dismissal is Fritz Schaeffer, Finance Minister of the Federal government. Schaeffer had complained against Kuester’s criticisms of inadequacies and inconsistencies in the federal indemnification law for individual victims of Nazi persecutions.
The “disparagement” of which Kuester is accused concerns a letter he wrote, exposing the Nazi past of Dr. Hermann Frank, Baden-Wuerttemberg finance minister, and criticizing the manner in which the state’s cabinet had handled indemnification matters. Kuester, who had been deputy head of the German delegation at The Hague, which negotiated the reparations agreement with Israel, wrote that letter to Prof. Boehm, the head of the delegation.
Kuester’s suspension was to have been debated in the Baden-Wuerttemberg parliament. Now his summary dismissal may make of the debate a mere academic gesture, since a parliamentary protest may not save Kuester’s tenure in his position as the state’s chief official concerned with indemnification.