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West German Jews Trying to Limit Fallout from Embezzlement Case

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Some members of West Germany’s Jewish community were reported this week to be withholding or trying to suppress information in order to minimize the damage done by the Werner Nachmann scandal.

But individuals in the community said Wednesday they will do their best to keep the public informed as more facts unfold implicating the late leader of the Jewish community.

Nachmann is being investigated for embezzling money intended for Jewish victims of Nazi persecution and the large-scale misuse of community funds.

The investigation is now centered in Baden, in southern Germany, where Nachmann headed the local Jewish community in addition to serving as chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. He died suddenly in January.

Community sources revealed that one of the auditors assigned to investigate his illegal activities in Baden had in fact received a $7,000 loan from Nachmann out of the community’s budget.

Nachmann alone controlled the Baden community’s finances. He reportedly transferred to it large sums from the reparations account he administered as chairman of the Central Council of Jews.

He channeled this money to secret accounts, to private building projects and to friends and supporters in the community, the community sources said.

Large sums also allegedly went to businesses controlled by Nachmann or by women who had close relations with him.

PRESS LIAISON FIRED

Kurt Rosendahl, a journalist hired by the Baden community as its liaison with the news media, was fired, according to reports Tuesday, because he criticized loans given wealthy businessmen who are part of the investigation of the Nachmann scandal.

Rosendahl said Wednesday he was not opposed to loans to community members in financial distress, but he said the kind of loans made by Nachmann were not based on need.

Ury Popper, the new chairman of the Baden Jewish community, told reporters the investigation into Nachmann’s affairs was continuing along lines determined by the community’s elected bodies.

But one community member, Sigmund Nissenbaum, implied through his lawyer Tuesday that the community was trying to block a full report on the scandal.

Nissenbaum, who claims to be the legal chairman of the Baden community, accused the community of canceling an investigation of Nachmann’s activities a year ago. According to his lawyer, Hans Kistner, that was when Nachmann began embezzling on a national scale.

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