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 Wiesenthal Centre to German Justice Minister "We support the Appeal of 56 Holocaust Survivor Organisations on Behalf of Protagonist for Survivor Restitution now Pending Trial"

"If this so-called disciplinary trial moves forward, it will wreak havoc on years of German judicial measures to assuage history... discouraging and intimidating humanitarian behaviour in the image of 'the righteous Gentile'"

Paris, 7 March

In a letter to German Federal Justice Minister, Heiko Maas, Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, noted "the Centre's long role in pursuing Holocaust victim indemnification claims", and expressed "outrage to learn that Judge Jan-Robert von Renesse - a major protagonist for Jewish restitution - is now pending trail for, ostensibly, 'harming the reputation of German courts' for his work on behalf of survivor claims".

Samuels stressed that, "although we do not wish to intervene in the German judicial system, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre supports the appeal from 56 Holocaust survivors organizations to end an apparent campaign of harassment against Judge von Renesse who has indefatigably sought to expiate his grandfather's service in the SS".

The letter emphasized that, "the trial, opening on 10 March in a Nord-Rhein Westfalia court, for 'judicial activism', which is apparently a euphemism for von Renesse's humanity in personally meeting and aiding elderly claimants in Israel, to fill in the required forms.  Indeed, the Judge was rare among his peers to, clearly,
understand that the camps did not deliver medical reports or death certificates".

The Centre argued that, "the Bundestag seems to have, since, caught up in endorsing von Renesse's humanitarian actions in dealing with issues of documentation and retroactivity, by enacting laws that, arguably, vitiate the charges against him".

The Centre deplored that "if this so-called disciplinary trial moves forward, it will wreak havoc on years of German judicial measures to assuage history...It will set an unthinkable precedent, damaging the evolution of human rights jurisprudence, - especially in the area of compensation, restitution and indemnification".

"We urge your Ministry to take a position on this trial which, otherwise, will henceforth discourage and intimidate behaviour that we have come to designate in the image of 'the righteous Gentile', also known as 'the Just' ", concluded Samuels.