Jacques van Dam drove up from La Costa last Thursday morning to hear it first-hand: Dutch Jews who spent all or part of World War II in the Netherlands are eligible for compensation and may now apply for further restitution. The government-sponsored Maror Fund will process applications from survivors like van Dam or their representatives. Individuals found eligible will receive NLG 14,000 (about $6,000), based on an estimated 36,481 awards.
Three representatives of Maror Fund were in Los Angeles last week to meet with Jewish officials and potential claimants. At an often emotional afternoon meeting with surviving Dutch Jews at Sephardic Temple Tiffereth Israel on Feb. 8, the three answered questions about eligibility and compensation.
A Dutch Jew born before May 8, 1945 who lived in the Netherlands permanently or for some time between May 10, 1940 and May 8, 1945 is eligible for the payment. Substitute payment will be made to the children, foster children or partner of a survivor who died on or after May 8, 1945.
Van Dam, who was born in 1932 and survived the war under the protection of a devout Protestant family, said he had already applied under the new law and found the process very efficient.
The government initiated a restitution program in the 1950s, but unused monies and new claims on banks, insurance companies and other institutions have created a demand for a new program. The Dutch government set aside $180 million for restitution, and banks, the stock exchange and insurance companies added another $50 million. Maror Fund officials estimate there are about 2,000 qualified applicants living in the United States. The prewar Jewish population of Holland numbered about 140,000. Today, about 26,500 Jews live in the Netherlands.
At the meeting, some survivors shared thir stories, while others asked how any amount of money could possibly provide real compensation. But, van Dam said, the government and Jewish groups "came to the best possible solution under the circumstances."
For further information or to receive an application, call 011-800-MAROR123 or visit the Web site www.joodsetegoeden.nl.