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Amsterdam Forced Holocaust Survivors To Pay Back Taxes

SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG(Germany) TIMES OF ISRAEL

Worldcrunch

AMSTERDAM - Of the 110,000 Jews deported from the Netherlands during World War II, only 6,000 returned home from the concentration camps. The survivors mostly found that their homes had been destroyed, or had been taken possession of by non-Jews.

It was then, if they were from Amsterdam, that the municipal letters started to arrive.

From 1945 to 1947, the city of Amsterdam sent Holocaust survivors reminders for unpaid taxes and other unpaid bills from the war years. Unlike other Dutch cities, Amsterdam made no allowances for the reasons that the returnees had not paid up.

There was no public debate, although the newspaper Het Parool did report on the letters in 1948.

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Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam Wikipedia

It is only now, 65 years later, that the way the city dealt with the issue is receiving public attention. Michiel Mulder of the Dutch Labor Party (Partij van de Arbeid) called the way returning Jews were dealt with a "disgrace." Amsterdam Mayor Eberhared van der Laan stated that the local government at the time had acted “formalistically, bureaucratically and coldly,” showing no "empathy for the victims."

The Times of Israel ran a story titled "Amsterdam fined, taxed Holocaust survivors in hiding" illustrated with a photo of Anne Frank.

The revelations are particularly embarrassing because they only came to light by accident during the digitizing of city archives. Art historian Charlotte van den Berg told the Süddeutsche Zeitung she found documents relating to the matter "buried under other files."

The documents included replies received from Jews taking issue with the payment demands or asking for extensions of the due dates for payments. “There were late fees being charged for late payment,” van den Berg said.

When she notified authorities about what she’d found, there was some notice taken but the archives department was more interested in staying on schedule with the digitizing project than worrying about 65-yer-old letters. Original documents were to be destroyed after the digitizing was completed. So van den Berg contacted Het Parool.

One of the spokespersons for those involved and their descendants is Ronny Naftaniel, the son of a Holocaust survivor and director of the Center for Information and Documentation Israel in the Netherlands. He urged swift clarification. While he did not mention compensation payments, he qualified as "shocking" that the city of Amsterdam had even claimed back-payments for local real estate taxes and public utilities.

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Geopolitics

Idlib Nightmare: How Syria's Lingering Civil War Is Blocking Earthquake Aid

Across the border from the epicenter in Turkey, the Syrian region of Idlib is home to millions of people displaced by the 12-year-long civil war. The victims there risk not getting assistance because of the interests of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, reminding the world of one of the great unresolved conflicts of our times.

Photo of Syrian civilians inspecting a destroyed residential building in Idlib after the earthquake

A destroyed residential building in Idlib after the earthquake

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

Faced with a disaster of the magnitude of the earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria, one imagines a world mobilized to bring relief to the victims, where all barriers and borders disappear. Unfortunately, this is only an illusion in such a complex and scarred corner of the world.

Yes, there's been an instant international outpouring of countries offering assistance and rescue teams converging on the disaster zones affected by the earthquakes. It is a race against time to save lives.

But even in such dramatic circumstances, conflict, hatred and competing interests do not somehow vanish by magic.

Sometimes, victims of natural disasters face a double price. This is the case for the 4.5 million inhabitants of Idlib, a region located in northwestern Syria, which was directly hit by the earthquake. So far, the toll there has reached at least 900 people killed, thousands injured and countless others left homeless in the harsh winter.

The inhabitants of Idlib, two-thirds of whom are displaced from other regions of Syria, live in an area that is still beyond the control of Bashar al-Assad, and they've been 90% dependent on international aid... which has not been arriving.

To put maximum pressure on these millions of people, the Syrian government and its Russian ally have gradually restricted the ability to get humanitarian aid to them.

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