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Friday, May 20, 2016 - 11:01
Confusion, anger at Amsterdam WWII reparations to Jewish community
Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan's decision to give the Jewish community 10 million euros in compensation wrongly paid ground lease after World War II, was met with anger and confusion. Particularly the recipient of the money dissatisfied many Jews, the Volkskrant reports. The 10 million euros is meant as compensation for the overdue ground lease many Jews had to pay to the municipality after returning from concentration camps after WWII. When this became known, Amsterdam immediately stated that they will pay the money back with interest. A later study showed that Amsterdam received between five and ten million euros in questionable leases. The municipality decided to compensate the Jewish community the highest amount in an effort to settle the matter well. When announcing the compensation, Mayor Van der Laan said that it is impossible to determine exactly how high the unfair ground lease was and whether it was ever paid in all cases. The municipality therefore decided to pay the money into a foundation and let the Jewish community decide how best to spend it. As possibilities, Van der Laan suggested the newly opened Holocaust museum or a new name memorial for Holocaust victims. Ron van der Wieken, president of the Central Jewish Board, is not happy with this decision. "I think that proper effort must be put into giving the money back to people who paid the lease back then, perhaps even to their relatives", he said to the Volkskrant. At the very least, the money should not go to a name memorial, he feels. "That would be a cigar from our own box. I my opinion the monument should be a gift from the state of the Netherlands." Online publicist Robert Baruch is even more against the money going towards a name monument. "Because such a monument can be no substitute for the non-existent graves of 102 thousand people. And because I know no one who need such a monument", he writes in a Facebook page created against such a monument - Geen Namenwand. He thinks the money should be invested in "the present Jewish cultural life".