The Hague in winter.
(photo credit: STEVEN LEK / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
The Municipality of The Hague in the Netherlands is set to launch a restitution scheme for Jewish property owners who were forced to pay back taxes after the Holocaust.
The plan is scheduled to begin January 1 and will include payments to surviving relatives of property owners who were obliged to pay ground rent and street tax after the war for 1942 through 1945.
The municipality demanded that these individuals pay the taxes, despite their properties having been appropriated by the Nazi occupation force and the owners being absent because of deportation or their having gone into hiding.
In a press release, the municipality said it had been primarily focused on reconstruction after 1945, and took a strictly legal approach with regard to municipal taxation and Jewish survivors and their relatives. “Now the municipality sees that this approach was too one-sided and showed no understanding for the suffering and horrors experienced by the Jewish community,” the statement said.
The Hague’s Municipal Executive and Municipal Council said it was keen to rectify those actions and therefore decided to offer “moral restitution.” Some €2.6 million are available for the purpose.
The Advisory Committee for Individual Jewish Moral Restitution, chaired by former president of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands Prof. GJM Corstens, will advise the municipality on individual claims for restitution.
After completing the individual restitution process, the municipality will also begin a process for collective restitution, which is expected to take place in the first half of 2019. The part of the reserved sum (€2.6m.) that has not been paid as individual restitution will then be made available to the Joods Leven Den Haag foundation, which will manage its disbursal.
Approximately 75% of the 140,000 Jews who lived in the Netherlands when Germany invaded the country in 1940 were murdered in the Holocaust. The Netherlands sustained the highest percentage death rate of its population in Nazi-occupied Western Europe.