Judging the Netherlands: The Renewed Holocaust Restitution Process, 1997-2000

In the last years of the twentieth century, the many shortcomings of the postwar Dutch Holocaust restitution became a major issue in the Dutch public debate. The internationally publicized failures of the Swiss banks regarding from the war period prompted investigations elsewhere as well, including in the Netherlands. A further stimulus came when many index cards of the Dutch looting bank LIRO, listing the stolen possessions of individual Jews, were found abandoned in an Amsterdam attic.

Reports of the commissions of inquiry revealed information about monies that had belonged to murdered Jews and were in the possession of the Dutch government, insurance companies, banks, and exchange brokers. Negotiations between these parties and representatives of the Jewish community led to sizable restitution payments. American intervention forced the Amsterdam Stock Exchange – which had been a major collaborator with the German occupiers – to pay tens of times more restitution than it was initially willing to.

This book first gives the historical background of the wartime persecution of the Dutch Jews, their chilly reception in the Netherlands after the war, and the highly problematic postwar restitution process.

The book also focuses on the reports of the various commissions of inquiry in the late 1990s, the development of the negotiations, the reactions in the Jewish community and Dutch society, as well as the emotional impact of the findings on commission members, negotiators, and journalists involved.

The Epilogue describes developments over the past decade since the negotiations were concluded.

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