German official backs off disputed Nazi comments

A German governor backed away Monday from a eulogy in which he said a predecessor who served as a naval judge in World War II had opposed the Nazi regime, seeking to stem criticism from political leaders and Jewish groups. Baden-Wuerttemberg governor Guenther Oettinger spoke last week at the funeral of Hans Filbinger, who resigned as governor in 1978 when it emerged he had served as a Nazi-era naval judge and had been involved in cases that ended in death sentences. In his eulogy, Oettinger said Filbinger was "not a Nazi" and was "an opponent of the Nazi regime" - comments that were condemned by Germany's main Jewish group and criticized by Chancellor Angela Merkel. "I wanted to acknowledge the life work of Hans Filbinger, but it was never my intention to hurt the persecuted and the victims," he was quoted as saying. "If that happened, I am sorry and I apologize for that."