Amsterdam to repay Jews fined for late rents during Holocaust

Dutch government to reimburse residents billed for arrears while incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps

The imposing Hollandsche Schouwburg, or Dutch Theater, served as a gathering point during the Nazi roundup of Amsterdam's Jews. (Matt Lebovic)
The imposing Hollandsche Schouwburg, or Dutch Theater, served as a gathering point during the Nazi roundup of Amsterdam's Jews. (Matt Lebovic)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Amsterdam will refund relatives of hundreds of Jews who were fined for being late with their rent during their incarceration in World War II concentration camps, city officials said Friday.

“From today, the descendants of the families can ask to be reimbursed for the fines imposed for late rental payments during World War II, which were unfairly collected,” the Dutch city said in a statement.

The issue came to light in April 2013 when a student published archive documents in which Jews who had escaped from the concentration camps were billed for arrears on properties belonging to the city of Amsterdam.

The city even imposed fines for late rents on houses which had been confiscated by the Nazis and occupied by Germans or members of the Dutch National Socialist Movement, the NSB.

Some of the homes had even been destroyed in the German bombing campaign.

Amsterdam was occupied by the Nazi regime from 1940-1945, during which time 80,000 Jews were rounded up and deported to death camps. Only 18,000 survived.

A study by the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide found that 240 camp survivors had been forced to pay such fines on their arrears when they returned to Amsterdam.

The average sum to be reimbursed is around 1,800 euros, but it varies from case to case.

In a separate case, the owners of some 900 bank accounts belonging to the war victims that were never reclaimed have now been identified.

Their relatives can now ask for the sums in the accounts to be handed over to them, worth an average of some 58.71 euros.

A special website has been set up to trace the relatives, as many are difficult to find.

But even decades ago, some survivors and city tenants were unhappy with Amsterdam’s request for back-payments.

J.W Levending, a carpenter and business man, angrily wrote to the local authorities on June 29, 1946 protesting the move.

“Is it for us to pay for the broken pots? Those who during the past years have lived in misery, locked away, and from whom the Germans took everything?”

“We received a bill which should have been paid by the men of the NSB and fines as well, when we weren’t even there. The local bureaucrats must really not know what has been going on, if they dared to demand the payment of such debts?”

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