Study: Amsterdam unjustly taxed Holocaust survivors

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (JTA) — The City of Amsterdam collected more than $10 million from Holocaust survivors who were charged ground lease fees for periods they spent in hiding or in concentration camps, researchers said.

The team of researchers for the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, or NIOD, wrote their findings in a still unpublished report they have been compiling since last year at the city’s request, the Het Parool daily reported Tuesday.

The city under Mayor Eberhard van der Laan asked NIOD to look into fines that the city had imposed on hundreds of Jewish Holocaust survivors for properties they owned but for which they had failed to pay ground lease fees after the German army’s invasion in 1940 into the Netherlands. Nazi authorities began in 1942 the deportation and murder of 75 percent of the 140,000 Jews living in the Netherlands then.

Many of the houses in question were used by Nazi occupation officers and local collaborates, Het Parool reported. The city went after Holocaust survivors for missed payments as late as 1947 and imposed fines on them for missing payments, according to the daily, whose publication on the issue last year prompted the investigation.

The NIOD researchers estimate the city received a total of $14.5 million from fines unjustly levied against Jews during the relevant period, according to Ronny Naftaniel, a former chief negotiator for the Dutch Jewish community in restitution talks and a member of the supervisory committee of the NIOD research.

The researchers have obtained documents that prove the city took $6.76 from 217 Jews who objected to the fines levied on them, Naftaniel added. The $14.5 estimate includes cases of Jews who paid and did not object.

“What has come to light is a scandalous procedure, in which people were stripped of their homes and then made to pay for those who moved in their place,” Naftaniel said.

He and other Jewish members of the supervisory committee have called on the city to begin restituting descendants of the Holocaust survivors who were made to pay unjustly, or the Jewish community in cases where descendants cannot be traced.

Mayor van der Laan, a son of resistance fighters, and the city council of Amsterdam in the near future are expected to decide on how to proceed and on what topics further research is necessary.

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