Norway is planning to investigate claims that property of Norwegian Jews was confiscated by Nazi collaborationists during World War II, according to a Jewish official.
“This is a little known fact in Norwegian history,” said Elan Steinberg, executive direction of the World Jewish Congress.
A committee known during the war as the Liquidation Committee for Confiscated Jewish Property had completely or partially seized the property of 12,000 people by the end of the war, according to recent reports in the Norwegian media.
Until the late 1980s, the files of the committee were locked in a cellar in the “Distrikt Prison.”
The documents were recently transferred to the Public Records Office, where a graduate student at the University of Bergen, Bjarte Bruland, first examined them.
Based on the files, Bruland concluded that the National Union’s Relief Fund and the Norwegian Nazi soldiers “got rich on the Jewish estates.”
Petter Thomassen, head of the Norwegian Parliament’s Control and Constitution Committee, which will be investigating the confiscations, said he was surprised by the disclosures of Norwegian’s treatment of the Jews.
“If it can really be proven that the Norwegians robbed the Jews, it is obvious that something has to be done,” Thomassen told a local paper.
“This is a terrible stain we cannot continue to live with without something being done,” he said.
The Liquidation Committee, which was overseen by High Court Judge Egil Reichborn-Kjennerud, apparently worked so systematically that after the way, Jewish estates were completely erased.
Norway had a Jewish population of 1,700 before the war; 900 escaped to Sweden and the rest were deported to Auschwitz.
Magne Skodvin, a respected historian, was quoted in the Norwegian media as saying, “I have been looking for a thorough investigation of this matter for a long time. This is one of the circumstances from the war period that no one has covered yet.”
Steinberg said that he is satisfied with the response of the Norwegians who seem willing to accept blame for their complicity in the confiscations, in contrast to other countries that have tired to pass off all responsibility for war crimes to the Nazi German occupiers.
Austria has steadfastly rejected the idea of reparations for Austrian Jews who were victimized during the Holocaust and only recently established a “humanitarian fund,” which Steinberg described as “sadly lacking in equity.”
The Swiss banks also made laws so onerous that heirs of those who died in the Holocaust have been unable to retrieve their relatives’ funds.
After the Israeli government intervened with Swiss officials, Switzerland has recently moved to rectify the situation.