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Dutch village built for Jews who fled Nazis now offered to Syrian refugees

Local media says land owner in Slootdorp proposed the idea earlier this month to Dutch agency for asylum seekers

The Dutch village of Slootdorp, once home to Jews fleeing Nazis, has been offered as housing for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. (screen capture: Google Maps)
The Dutch village of Slootdorp, once home to Jews fleeing Nazis, has been offered as housing for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. (screen capture: Google Maps)

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The Dutch owner of land that was once a village for Jews fleeing the Nazis has offered its use as housing for refugees from Syria and Iraq.

Joep Karel, the owner of the area in Slootdorp, 35 miles north of Amsterdam, made the offer earlier this month to the government’s Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers, The Noordhollands Dagblad daily reported last week.

The offer came amid a heated debate over the arrival this year of at least 26,000 Middle Eastern migrants. In Geldermalsen near Rotterdam, police fired warning shots during a riot by thousands of protesters opposed to the opening of a refugee center.

Dutch Jewry’s main organizations expressed their opposition to plans to open such a center in the heavily Jewish municipality of Amstelveen, citing security concerns.

Police forces stand in front of protesters during a demonstration on December 16, 2015 at a council meeting about plans to open a refugee center for 1,500 refugees in Geldermalsen. (AFP/ANP/Jeroen Jumelet)
Police forces stand in front of protesters during a demonstration on December 16, 2015 at a council meeting about plans to open a refugee center for 1,500 refugees in Geldermalsen. (AFP/ANP/Jeroen Jumelet)

The Jewish work village in Slootdorp was set up in 1934 by local Jews for co-religionists fleeing Germany and Austria. Run like an agricultural kibbutz, it prepared Zionists for immigration to pre-state Israel. However, nearly all of the dozens of Jews who lived there were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Amsterdam-based Jews who were not immediately deported to death camps were sent to four ghettos. Germany recently recognized the fourth, Asterdorp, as a ghetto, Het Parool last week reported. This recognition enables former residents of that ghetto to claim compensation from Germany.

In September, the Amsterdam municipality agreed to compensate hundreds of Jews whom it had fined in the 1940s for failing to pay property taxes while they were in camps, ghettos or in hiding.

Last week, the association Jewish Heritage in The Hague, or Stichting Joods Erfgoed Den Haag, called on that municipality to offer similar compensation for funds it had charged from its Holocaust survivors, Het Algemeen Dagblad daily reported.

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