BERLIN (JTA) — Germany’s top Jewish leader met the resignation of German President Christian Wulff with “respect, appreciation and regret.”
Wulff, 52, who recently was awarded the Jewish community’s top prize, announced his resignation Friday amid a growing scandal involving possible financial improprieties and attempts to hush up the press. Allegations of misconduct stemming from his previous role as governor of the state of Lower Saxony have threatened by association to taint the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Christian Democratic Union. Merkel said Friday that she regretted the recent developments, and lauded Wulff’s service as president.
Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in a statement that Germany’s Jewish community was especially grateful to Wulff for his “special attention and friendship,” for “consistently defending the rights of religious minorities, and his special sensitivity toward the darkest chapter of German history.”
Wulff, who served for a year and a half, “always represented Germany in a worthy manner,” Graumann said, adding that the president and his wife, Bettina, “represented a cosmopolitan, young and dynamic Germany that embraces its new diversity as an asset.”
In November, the Central Council presented Wulff with its highest annual honor, the Leo Baeck Prize.
Graumann, 61, traveled with Wulff in January 2011 to ceremonies marking the 66th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, where Wulff was the first German president to speak at the annual commemoration.
The German presidency is a symbolic office whose holder is considered to represent the country’s moral conscience.