Groningen city council has compensated the heir of a Jewish couple whose house was bought by the state, after they had been deported and murdered by the Nazis.
Groningen mayor Koen Schuiling recognised that the large, detached house, bought according to the archives as an official residence for the mayor of the time, was acquired within the rules of the time but for a song, reports RTV Noord.
The house was requisitioned by the Nazis in the war, sold privately in 1944, and then expropriated by the state’s Netherlands Management Institute (NBI), according to Dutch media. It was bought by the state from the rightful Jewish owner in 1952, but the family was not in a position to refuse and had never been allowed back into the house.
The grandson of the Jewish Serphos-Menko family, Hubert van Blankenstein, brought a claim, which was considered by a special committee. He said the compensation was an acknowledgement of the pain and suffering of the past, and that he would donate it to an anti-discrimination foundation yet to be set up.
‘For years I have struggled with the question of why my parents, sisters and I couldn’t live in our house,’ he reportedly wrote in a press release from Israel, where he now lives. ‘The house of which my grandmother and later my mother were the owners.
It is understood that the Groningen mayor contacted Van Blankenstein personally to offer his apologies and offer the compensation.
‘Although the legal rules of the time were applied after the war, in terms of decency and morality, things did not happen in the right way,’ Schuiling told RTV Noord. ‘This is the reason that I have taken the advice of the inquiry committee.’
In 2016, Amsterdam announced a fund of €10 million to compensate Jewish people for housing taxes unjustly charged to them while they were in German death camps – but there were not enough survivors to take the money, so it was donated to Jewish causes.
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