Report: Amsterdam hiked rents for Jews in city ghetto during Holocaust

Cnaan Liphshiz

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The Dutch capital profited from the Nazi occupation’s persecution of Jews by raising their rent after they were confined to ghettos, a new study revealed.

The discovery was first reported by the Het Parool daily on Feb. 18 based on the findings of Stephan Steinmetz, a political science scholar, in his new book “Asterdorp” – the name of a ghetto in northern Amsterdam where 300 Jews were sent in 1942, two years after Germany invaded and occupied the Netherlands.

According to the book, the municipality and its housing department, which owned the Asterdorp area, hiked the rent by 25 to 30 percent as soon as the Jews moved into the ghetto. A similar rent increase occurred in municipal housing that was used for a larger ghetto in the city’s south. German occupation forces never asked the city to raise the rent.

The city has never sought to reimburse Jewish families for the increase in rent for houses they did not occupy of their own free will. But after the war, it did submit a bill equivalent to what is today $3 million to the central government for compensation for expenses connected to housing the Jews there.

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The discovery comes weeks after Amsterdam launched a campaign to reach out to Jewish families who were fined for failing to pay property taxes while they were in hiding or in concentration camps. Immediately after the war, the city refused dozens of requests to strike debts incurred this way, according to a 2013 discovery of that practice.

Separately, the southern town of Boxmeer earlier this month saw the return of a yad, a ritual pointer used to identify the words while they are being read out from the Torah, which had been taken from its synagogue during the occupation, when the building was destroyed.

The municipality spent more than $2,000 to purchase the item from its previous owners in Israel. It will be placed in the town museum, the De Gelderlander daily reported Monday.

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