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Hundreds of Amsterdam Jews could be compensated after wartime ghetto boundaries redrawn

More than 1000 people who were forced to live in Amsterdam’s ghettoes during the war could receive compensation in the wake of a boundary review.

Waterlooplein was the heart of Amsterdam's wartime ghetto districtNearly 70 years after the city was liberated, the German government has accepted that the ‘Jewish quarter’ was larger than it previously acknowledged.

The area has been widened to take in the Rivierenbuurt in Amsterdam-Zuid and the Transvaalbuurt to the east of the city centre, as well as Waterlooplein and Jodenbreestraat.

 

Jews who lived and worked in the district are entitled to a one-off €2000 compensation payment for the work they were forced by their circumstances to carry out.

Last May Waterlooplein and Jodenbreestraat were designated as a wartime ghetto following a 10-year legal battle in Germany.

The German finance ministry had come under pressure from the Dutch Alliance for the Interests of Victims of Persecution (VBV) to widen its definition of the ghetto.

Around 1200 people are thought to be entitled to compensation after Germany dropped its objection. Some application which were previously rejected will now be reviewed.

Although there was no forced labour in the ghetto, many Jews had to quit their regular jobs when they were rehoused and had to subsist through menial jobs, before they were eventually sent to the concentration camps.

“In the Amsterdam ghetto they did all kinds of jobs such as sewing bags to keep their families alive,” said Flory Neter, chairwoman of the VBV.

“It wasn’t forced labour, but they were forced to be in the ghetto so it wasn’t exactly voluntary either.

“Even children who pulled out tacking threads from clothes with pliers in a sewing factory could be eligible for the payment.”

She said the organisation was delighted at the outcome of its negotiations with the German government. “This is about determining what it meant to live in a so-called ‘open ghetto’, where non-Jews lived as well.

“We had previously lost a court case against the German finance ministry, but after consulting they have now decided to recognise these neighbourhoods in Amsterdam as a ghetto.”