Jews must be paid back 'with interest': Amsterdam mayor

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Jewish survivors of Nazi camps during World War II who were charged rent arrears upon their return to the Dutch capital after the war should be repaid "with interest," Amsterdam's mayor has said.

"Every penny that we got because we were heartless or bureaucratic, we will have to pay back, with interest," Eberhard van der Laan told a television interview on private broadcaster KRO late on Tuesday evening.

Controversy erupted in March when a young art history student revealed that the city charged a number of Jews and non-Jews back rent for their properties, even if their homes had been destroyed or occupied by Nazis.

"We were shocked to learn about what happened," Van der Laan told chat show "Oog in oog" ("eye-to-eye"), saying an investigation was underway.

Less than a quarter of Amsterdam's Jewish population survived the war during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands between 1940 and 1945.

Of the 80,000 Jews deported from Amsterdam, only some 18,000 survived.

The municipality at the time even demanded payment for homes confiscated by the Dutch National Socialist NSB movement, who collaborated with the German occupiers.

"Looking at it now, it's a horrible case," said Van der Laan, adding: "I am very surprised that people who have themselves experienced the occupation could have been so heartless."

The victims of the city's bureaucracy themselves at the time did question the decision.

A businessman named J. W. Levending wrote on June 29, 1946: "So we must again pay the piper? Those who for years lived in suffering, locked up, from whom everything was taken by the Germans."

"We get the bill that should have been paid by the men from the NSB; and fines despite the fact that we weren't even there. I wonder that these gentlemen the bureaucrats can be so ignorant of the situation that they demand such payments?"

Despite the protests, Amsterdam's civil servants however persisted with demands for money, strictly applying the rules.

© 2013 AFP

1 Comment To This Article

  • carrico posted:

    on 18th July 2013, 12:35:55 - Reply

    And for how long did the idiotic bureaucracy persist in demanding this blood money? Had it been indoctrinated by the Gestapo? Certainly it was complicit when mapping the Jewish quarters of Amsterdam, enabling the occupiers to scoop up their prey. This is infuriating, the stuff of a Versetz Museuum exhibit. Be sure to include the Dutch gentiles who were equally screwed.