BONN (Dec. 20)
The Central Council of Jews in West Germany, shamed by an embezzlement scandal early this year, is divided over whether to disband the community umbrella organization.
Ignaz Bubis, head of the Jewish community in Frankfurt, which is the largest in West Germany, resigned from the Central Council 10 days ago, along with eight other members.
He urged the 10 remaining members to quit as well, so that elections can be held for new leadership. But that was fiercely opposed by Heinz Galinski, the 75-year-old chairman of the Central Council.
Galinski argued that blanket resignations would end all activities on behalf of West German Jews, and that he could not take responsibility for that.
The resignations followed a meeting of the Central Council’s assembly in West Berlin.
Critics said the present leadership did not deserve confidence because it had failed to detect the malfeasance of the late Werner Nachmann, who chaired the Central Council for more than 20 years until he died suddenly last January.
Nachmann, a respected businessman with political connections in Bonn, was discovered after his death to have misappropriated some $40 million, earmarked for reparations for Jewish Holocaust survivors.
Most of the money was provided by the Bonn Finance Ministry and placed in trust with the Central Council for distribution.
It was Nachmann’s successor, Galinski, who uncovered the scandal last March.
The Central Council accepted full responsibility, firing its secretary, Alexander Ginsberg, who along with Nachmann had sole access to the reparations account.
So far, however, no legal action has been taken against anyone and the stolen funds have not been found.