German Embezzlement Case Focuses on Secretary of Jewish Council
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German Embezzlement Case Focuses on Secretary of Jewish Council

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Alexander Ginsburg, the suspended secretary of the Central Council of Jews in West Germany, has become the focal point of investigations into the apparent embezzlement of some $12 million of funds intended for Nazi victims.

The theft has been charged to the late Werner Nachmann, who for 22 years was president of the Central Council, the umbrella organization of West German Jewry, until his death at age 62 on Jan. 21.

Ginsburg was the only community officer apart from Nachmann who had access to the reparations account.

A lawyer handling Nachmann’s estate said he wrote a letter to Ginsburg in January about Nachmann’s theft and provided further information at a long meeting with him later.

But Ginsburg did not pass the information on to members of the Central Council or to the Finance Ministry in Bonn, which paid monies into the reparations accounts controlled by Nachmann and Ginsburg.


The estate lawyer also confirmed Tuesday that before his death, Nachmann transferred 30,000 marks (some $17,500) in reparations money to the account of Ginsburg’s wife.

Ginsburg has denied any knowledge of Nachmann’s alleged wrongdoing or complicity.

The embezzled money was the interest earned on some $238 million provided by the Bonn government from 1980 to 1987. It was to be used to compensate Jewish victims of Nazism from Eastern Europe who arrived in West Germany after the 1965 deadline for filing reparations claims.

Upon approval of their applications by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, the persecutees would receive a one-time payment of 5,000 marks, about $3,000.

The Bundestag’s budget committee has opened its own investigation into the scandal.


Klaus Rose of the Bavarian Christian Social Union, who is deputy chairman of the committee, charged Tuesday that the Bonn Finance Ministry apparently had “blind confidence” in Nachmann’s management of the reparations account.

Investigators have questioned why the Finance Ministry deposited money into the account before it was ready for disbursement.

Seven payments were made between 1980 and 1987 to the Central Council’s account in the Bank Fuer Gemeinwirtschaft in Karlsruhe, Rose reported.

From there, Nachmann transferred it to another of the council’s accounts in the Karlsruhe branch of a French bank, Societe Generale Alsacienne.

The reparations money allocated up to last year was insufficient to provide payments to all of the 100,000 Jewish persecutes who had applied.

While the government was considering an additional allocation, it asked Nachmann for a full accounting of how the original sum was used. He failed to offer a satisfactory response.

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