Imagine you had survived one of the Nazi death camps, but on returning home found that you owed the city council back rents and taxes on the house the Nazis had stolen from you, and to add insult to injury, had to pay fines for late payment.
That is exactly what happened to 217 Amsterdam Jews, and now the city is considering compensating them .
“They were completely expropriated. And then, after the Second World War, they were taxed for the period in which they didn’t enjoy the house, and where they had not the ownership of the house. And not only were they taxed, they had also to pay fines on it,” says the former director of the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel, Ronnie Nathaniel.
The scandal came to light four years ago when part-time interns combing through the city archives came across letters of complaint. After a lonely four-year battle one intern, Charlotte van den Berg, has today obtained public recognition.
“It’s something I think we should be ashamed of. And it was an episode in history we thought we had closed, but apparently that is not the case,” says the leader of the D66 party Jan Paternotte.
Often the houses were sold to Dutch collaborators who fled after the war. Some 75% of the Netherland’s Jews were deported, in part because of the efficient Dutch civil service. A pity, say some, that it could not have been as efficient once the fighting had ended.