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Thursday, 3 January, 2002, 12:59 GMT
Dutch process Holocaust claims
Jewish woman showing camp number
Many survivors around Europe have received compensation
By the BBC's Geraldine Coughlan

Dutch authorities have begun processing the final claims for compensation for people whose belongings were stolen by the Nazis.

The government and financial institutions are paying $6,000 each to Holocaust survivors and their descendents in order to make reparations.

Many valuables, shares, insurance policies and bank accounts remain unclaimed.

During the second world war, more than 100,000 Dutch Jews were killed by the Nazis - who seized their possessions and the possessions of those who survived.

Lost art

The Dutch government has also agreed to return stolen art works that ended up in state hands after the war.

"They did a very good job in recuperating the works of art from Germany but once in the Netherlands they messed it up," Gerard Aalders, author of several books on the looting by the Nazis, told the BBC's World Business Report.

"Because of that, we still have about 4,000 works of art in the collection of the Dutch state which belonged to the Jews a long time ago... and which should be given back now."

Moral obligation

Since 1995, several European countries have acknowledged their moral duty to compensate those who suffered.

In the Netherlands, most Jews have received money through a scheme called Moral Responsibility for Embezzled Funds & Restoration of Justice.

In 1997, the Dutch government, the Amsterdam stock exchange, and banks and insurance companies funded this scheme to the tune of more than $200m.

Some Holocaust survivors have remained reluctant to receive compensation.

"These are the kind of wrongs which can not really be expressed by the value of money," Bob Levinson, one of the recipients, told the BBC's World Business Report.

"How can I explain in money that my more or less direct family were killed?

"I can't put that into money value. But the fact that this restoration is there, shows an acknowledgement of the fact that some unbelievable wrong has been done."

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The BBC's Geraldine Coughlan
"It has been a long process to reimburse them"
See also:

11 Oct 01 | Europe
Swiss banks return Holocaust cash
20 Jun 01 | Europe
Nazi slave fund pays out
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