MUNICH (Nov. 28)
Bavarian Justice Minister Hans Ehard warned here today against discrediting German judges just because they belonged to the Nazi party.
In a controversial speech before the Bavarian provincial parliament, Mr. Ehard, who is the former Minister President of the state, said that formal membership in the National Socialist party or duty on a special Nazi or Wermacht court should not be the basis for removing judges from office. “There has been too much criticism of our judicial system recently,” Mr. Ehard declared.
The Bavarian official admitted when questioned by the opposition Social Democrats, however, that allegations that a judge or district attorney had taken part in “excessive” death sentences, should be investigated “immediately and with painstaking detail.”
No more than 140 judges and prosecutors have been retired from office because of their Nazi records while many others are believed to be still on the beach. Their presence, along with other aspects of the German judicial system, has been the subject of wide ranging criticism in recent months. Light sentences in war crimes trials have contributed to what is described here as a “crisis of confidence” in the judiciary.