German judge evades punishment for helping survivors apply for ghetto pensions

(JTA) – A German judge who landed in legal trouble after helping Holocaust survivors apply for ghetto pensions has settled the case against him out of court.

The North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Justice announced the settlement on Tuesday. In its statement, the ministry said that as part of the agreement with Jan-Robert von Renesse, neither side would discuss the details of the case or its settlement. The disciplinary charges have been dropped.

Jewish and other leaders led by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany had increasingly pressed the case for von Renesse, who was facing possible fines or other punishment. The judge had taken it upon himself to assist Holocaust survivors in applying for ghetto pensions.

He had been accused of causing “reputational damage of the social jurisprudence” after it emerged that von Renesse had questioned the rejection of ghetto pension applications and intervened to help applicants, interviewing more than 120 Holocaust survivors in Israel.

Welcoming the news on Tuesday, pro-Israel activist and Green Party legislator Volker Beck said he thought von Renesse deserved Germany’s highest honor, an Order of Merit, rather than a disciplinary hearing.

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