The head of Germany's main Jewish group sharply criticized a regional governor Thursday for his eulogy of a predecessor who had resigned after it was revealed he served as a Nazi-era judge.
Gunther Oettinger, the current conservative governor of the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberb, praised predecessor Hans Filbinger, who died April 1 at the age of 93.
Oettinger, in his eulogy Wednesday in Freiburg, said Filbinger was "not a Nazi" and "an opponent of the Nazi regime."
"However, he could not avoid the compulsion of the regime, any more than millions of others," Oettinger said.
Filbinger resigned as governor of the state in 1978 when it was revealed he had served as a judge during the Nazi period and had taken part in cases that ended in death sentences.
Charlotte Knobloch, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, called the eulogy "a dangerous and offensive perversion of historical reality."
"We can today no longer seriously discuss whether Filbinger cooperated with the Nazi regime or not, of course he did," Knobloch said. "In the face of these facts the words of the governor of Baden-Wuerttemberg sound more than absurd."
Officials from opposing political parties in the southwestern region have also sharply criticized Oettinger, who is a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union.
Oettinger was defended by the Christian Democratic leader in the local legislature, Stephan Mappus. "With the death of a longtime governor, there should be an end to knee-jerk discussions about his person," Mappus said.