Rejecting restitution calls for survivors, Amsterdam gives Jewish groups $11M


AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The City of Amsterdam approved an $11 million payment to Jewish causes as compensation for money it wrongfully collected from individual Holocaust survivors.

Four of the five factions represented at city hall last week voted in favor of transferring the funds to a nonprofit that would distribute the money among various Jewish groups. D66, a center-left party, objected to the plan because it sought direct restitution for the hundreds of survivors who were made to pay fines for failing to pay taxes while they were in hiding or in concentration camps.

The affair was exposed in an article in Het Parool, a local daily, in 2013 based on the discovery of rejected appeals for remission by survivors, and prompted the city to launch a probe on the extent of the wrongful collection of funds.

The Netherlands’ Central Jewish Organization, or CJO, sought individual compensation for the wronged survivors or their descendants, but Mayor Eberhard van der Laan objected to this course of action, arguing it would create inequality, a cumbersome vetting procedures and delays, the Center for Information and Documentation, a watchdog on anti-Semitism, reported on its website.

CJO was not convinced, arguing that inequality in some cases cannot be seen as precluding justice for the wronged parties.

Ronny Naftaniel, chairman of Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund and former CIDI director, lamented the decision not to offer compensation to individual survivors or their families.

“Regrettable  that the city council rejected  D66’s proposed amendment,“ said Naftaniel, who played a central role in restitution talks between the Jewish community and the Dutch government for Holocaust-era property, which yielded $500 million in compensation in the years 2000-2002.

On Twitter, Naftaniel also said he is “pleased that Amsterdam now is settling its insensitive policy during World War II.”

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