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German Official Resigns in Protest Against Injustice to Kuester

July 8, 1955
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A high government official here has resigned in protest against the continuing injustice being meted out to Otto Kuester, who was summarily fired as Indemnification Commissioner for the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg a year ago, due to his militant advocacy of fair and equitable indemnification for Nazi victims.

Dr. Kuester, a member of the Lutheran Church and a conservative in politics, played a crucial part in bringing the German reparations negotiations with Israel to a successful conclusion. Without his dramatic 1952 resignation as deputy chief of the German delegation, and without his subsequent exposure of the efforts by certain Bonn quarters to thwart the conclusion of the agreement, the negotiations which were deadlocked might well have collapsed altogether.

Because of his wholehearted belief that the state must be based upon law and justice, Dr. Kuester had left the judicial administration during the Nazi era. Under his direction, Baden-Wuerttemberg in recent years forged ahead of all German states in the proportion of indemnification claims settled and in the consideration shown Nazi victims. This made him decidedly unpopular in many German circles and last year he was ousted from office on trumped-up charges.

One of the pretexts for his dismissal was a confidential appraisal of his work prepared by a retired judge, Dr. H. Teufel, in the name of Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Minister of Justice, Dr. Wolfgang Haussmann of the Free Democratic Party. Dr. Kuester was never heard by Judge Teufel and was refused access to the files on which Judge Teufel’s adverse opinion was based, even after the Landtag had resolved, at the end of last year, that Dr. Kuester should be heard and the files made available to him.

At this point Judge Dr. Walter Mueller, head of the Criminal Law Division in the Ministry of Justice, studied the Teufel files. He was outraged by the way in which due process of law had been violated, with the transparent objective of entrapping and censuring Dr. Kuester at all costs. Dr. Mueller submitted a report to Justice Minister Haussmann, but was given to understand that he would do better to withdraw it. He then appealed to Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Premier Dr. Gebhard Mueller-to no avail.

Now Dr. Mueller, until 1953 chief prosecuting attorney in the Stuttgart area and then one of the highest officials in the administration of justice, has done something exceedingly rare in the annals of the German civil service: he resigned in protest and at the age of 50 has started a new career, even though he has four children and, due to the peculiarities of the German system, must forego the substantial pension due him after 23 years in government service.

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