NEW YORK (Jul. 26)
The embezzlement scandal uncovered in West Germany’s Jewish community will not affect reparations payments, leaders of the World Jewish Congress assured recipients last week.
They were referring to the growing scandal involving the late Werner Nachmann, head of the Central Council of Jews in West Germany until his sudden death last January, who apparently misappropriated at least $18 million the Bonn government provided and entrusted to the Central Council for payment to former Jewish persecutes.
The money has yet to be traced.
WJC President Edgar Bronfman is back from a visit to the Federal Republic, where he had three days of meetings with President Richard von Weizsacker and Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
He was accompanied by WJC Secretary-General Israel Singer and Elan Steinberg, the organization’s executive director.
“A critical element in our talks was the need for clarification that in the wake of the Nachmann scandal, the victims — the elderly recipients of payments — would not suffer,” Steinberg explained.
“We obtained these assurances,” he added.
The WJC leaders confirmed that negotiations are currently under way with the Communist regime of East Germany to pay compensation to Nazi victims.
It is the first time in 40 years that East Germany acknowledged it had such an obligation. Until now, the regime maintained it was not responsible for the persecutions and atrocities committed in the Nazi era.
Their talks in Bonn also covered planned observances in West Germany and Austria of the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the pogrom on Nov. 9, 1938, that marked the beginning of systematic public persecution of Jews in both countries.