Philip Auerbach, former Restitution Commissioner of Bavaria, who was convicted by a German court, dominated by ex-Nazi judges, of embezzlement in connection with funds allotted to Jewish victims of Nazis, committed suicide in a hospital here yesterday by taking an overdose of sleeping pills.
The former Jewish official, who was the target of anti-Semitic propaganda in post-war Germany, was sentenced last Thursday to 30 months’ imprisonment by a court composed of five judges, three of whom were former members of the Nazi Party. After the verdict was issued, he announced that he would appeal against it and termed it “a second Dreyfus affair.”
Yesterday his wife received a letter from him from the hospital–where he had been treated for a kidney ailment under police custody–stating that he would never get over having his “honor dragged in the dirt.” During the night he took his life. Police refused to give any details about his death.
At his trial, which started in April, he was accused of illegally paying out 3,000,000 marks in false claims to Jews during the five years when he was head of the Bavarian State Restitution Office which was set up by the Allies. An appeal to John J. McCloy, American High Commissioner at that time, to transfer the case from a German court to an Allied court brought no results.
Three of Auerbach’s former associates in the restitution office were also sentenced last Thursday by the same court. One of them, Rabbi Aaron Orenstein, was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment and fined 10,000 marks. The other, Dr. Klaus Koenig-Ohnsorg, was sentenced to a year in prison and 200 marks fine. The third, Dr. Berthold Kornisch, received a four-month jail term and was fined 500 marks.
Herr Auerbach visited the United States in October, 1949 to help expedite claims of damages for 10,000 to 12,000 former inmates of Nazi concentration camps who now live in the United States and Canada. Himself a war-time inmate of the Auschwitz concentration camp, he was an active opponent of reviving Nazism and led protests against such incidents as the bombing of a branch office of his commission in Nuernberg in March, 1947; repeated desecrations of Jewish cemeteries in Bavaria and the acquittal in March, 1950, of two former Gestapo officials charged with war crimes.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.