Update (November 6, 2008 at 5:10 AM PDT): A Novell spokesman contacted me to indicate the the Google translation is wrong. In fact, no employees were laid off. Offices were closed and employees have been asked to work from home.
Novell laid off employees close to its SUSE home in Germany and Austria, as reported in Silicon.de (Translation here), shuttering sales offices in Vienna, Munich, and Berlin. The number of employees laid off has not yet been made public.
Such layoffs, however, shouldn't necessarily be read as part of a broader cost-cutting move on Novell's part. The layoffs are consistent with Novell's renewed focus on its partner channel, as well as a recognition that empty offices aren't conducive to corporate profits.
In sum, this is very bad news for the employees who will lose their jobs, but it sounds like the right thing for Novell to do.