Restitution of immovable property began immediately after the war under the framework of laws adopted by the Dutch government-in-exile in London during the war. The laws canceled wartime Nazi confiscation decrees and established the Council for the Restoration of Rights, which included an administrative immovable property division. Despite the existence of the legal framework for restitution, property return was a complicated and protracted process. Survivors and heirs did not receive preferential treatment. For example, the most recent owner of a property was often unaware of its origins, and in many cases, the rightful Jewish owner had to partially compensate the most recent owner in order to get the property back. The Council addressed approximately 200,000 claims, many of which were resolved in an out-of-court settlement process. The Council discontinued its activities in 1967, except for the securities division, which continued to operate as an independent entity until the late 1970s.
The Van Kemenade Committee, one of four committees established by the Dutch government responsible for various aspects of the restitution process, issued a report in 2000 concluding that the restitution process for all types of property except securities, while generally carried out in a lawful and precise manner, had unfair consequences. For example, the Netherlands initially (until the late 1950s) failed to waive the inheritance tax on the property of Jews who had died in concentration and death camps. The Van Kemenade report recommended additional analysis of the theft and restitution of Jewish property, particularly on the value of confiscated businesses and looted art.
The three other committees examined other aspects of the country’s post-war restitution process, such as the looting of securities, bank accounts, and insurance policies, and the theft of Jewish assets in the Netherlands via the Lippman Rosenthal & Co Bank (Liro). In response to the reports issued by each committee, the Central Jewish Board (CJO) and Platform Israel, which represented the Jewish community in the Netherlands, concluded agreements in 1999 and 2000 with banks, insurance companies, the stock exchange, and the government on the settlement of unclaimed Jewish assets. The settlement amount, equivalent to about $385 million and disbursed through the Maror Foundation, was material and moral compensation for the recognized deficiencies in the restoration of rights after WWII. The government paid more than half of this amount, and the banks, insurance companies, and investment funds paid the remainder. Of the total, €50 million ($55 million) was designated for the Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund for projects in Central and Eastern Europe that promoted awareness of Jewish culture and society, as well as promoting tolerance. Of the remaining amount, 80 percent went to fixed-sum payments to individuals, which have been completed, while 20 percent was designated for communal purposes over a period of 20 years. The Maror Foundation administers the funds as grants to interested parties promoting the Dutch-Jewish community. Since 2005, it has funded grants totaling approximately $24.74 million for nearly 1,800 activities and programs.
At the local level, the city of Amsterdam decided in 2016 to reimburse rent and fines collected after the war from Jewish homeowners, totaling approximately $11.15 million. While the Jewish community had called for reimbursement directly to the survivors where possible, the bulk of the money went to a fund from which the Jewish community can finance future projects, such as the country’s National Holocaust Museum and National Holocaust Monument. The Hague also decided in 2016 to appropriate approximately $2.9 million for similar compensation, the bulk of which was paid to individuals. Rotterdam and Utrecht are considering paying similar compensation.
The Dutch Railways (NS) in June 2019 agreed to pay individual compensation to Holocaust survivors or heirs for the company’s role in transporting victims to the Westerbork transit camp. NS will pay compensation to 5,000-6,000 Holocaust survivors, surviving widows, and their children in the range of about $5,600 to $16,719 per person. An independent committee recommended NS also work with organizations representing Jews, Roma, and Sinti on an appropriate way to recognize the suffering of those who did not survive and had no surviving partner or child. The Central Jewish Council stated, “Justice is done to the survivors and next of kin with compensation in three categories. However, 80 percent of the Dutch Jews did not survive WWII and NS owes them too.”
Dutch authorities returned communal property after the war through the Organizations of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands. This entity manages more than 200 of the 230 Jewish cemeteries in the Netherlands. There are 29 Jewish cemeteries designated as protected monuments. Of the approximately 100 synagogues that existed before WWII, 30 are still in use as synagogues, and others have been repurposed.
In the late 1990s, a number of countries led by the U.S. agreed to dispose of the remaining Nazi-looted gold in the possession of the Tripartite Gold Commission, which in 1946 was tasked with recovering Nazi-looted gold and returning it to its rightful owners. The Netherlands received a final payment of approximately 22.5 million guilders (€10.2 million, or about $11.3 million). The Netherlands used this money in 2001 to support Jewish communal activities in the country, including cultural programming, education, museums, upkeep of cemeteries, libraries, synagogues, books, and films.