MUNICH (Apr. 26)
Rabbi Arou Ohrenstein, a controversial figure in the Jewish community and in Bavarian restitution circles, was cleared by a local German court late yesterday of having been involved in a black market and smuggling ring. The prosecutor had asked a two-year sentence and a heavy fine.
The case involved a gang which had smuggled huge quantities of food and other hard-to-obtain articles into Germany in 1949 and 1950. The goods were admitted duty-free because they were consigned to a non-existent charity organization. The goods included 200,000 pounds of chocolate 100,000 pounds of coffee, 140,000 pounds of cocoa, 14,000 pairs of nylon stockings and other items.
Several others among the ten defendants in the case were given suspended sentences; other members of the ting had ###ed abroad. Among the accused were Prince Hans of Lichtenstein and Johann Borlion, former Bavarian secretary of the respected Workers Welfare Association.
Dr. Ohrenstein testified that he had intervened in behalf of the promoters of the scheme aid and certified lists of alleged recipients of food packages,” unaware that there was anything wrong with the organization. He stressed that he had acted in good faith throughout.
Among the witnesses testifying against Dr. Ohrenstein was Dr. Julius Spanier, former president of the Munich Jewish Community. After a lengthy controversy in the community lasting a number of years, beginning with charges leveled against Dr. Ohrenstein as an alleged accomplices fraud of the late Philip Auerbach, one-time head of the Bavarian Restitution Office, Dr. Ohrenstein was officially removed as Chief Rabbi of Munich by the community some six months ago. However, he has refused to recognize the legality of the community’s action and maintains that he is still Chief Rabbi.