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West Germany: Discovery of A Sad Legacy

1 minute read

Until he died four months ago at 62 of a heart attack, Werner Nachmann was the most powerful figure in West Germany’s close-knit, 30,000-member Jewish community. As chairman of the Central Council of Jews for 22 years, he played a key role in German-Jewish reconciliation. At a funeral ceremony, Chancellor Helmut Kohl eulogized Nachmann as a “moral authority” who had “made his mark on the history of our republic.”

Thus there was widespread shock last week when it was alleged that Nachmann had embezzled millions of dollars from interest earned by reparations funds provided by the West German government for victims of Nazi persecution. Said Heinz Galinski, 75, Nachmann’s successor as council chairman: “This is one of the darkest hours for the Jewish community since 1945.”

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