There are limited circumstances in which the concept of ‘reparations’ paid for a past wrong is sensible. America paid the Japanese-Americans in the United States reparations for the loss of their property when socialist FDR forced them into internment camps, for example. On the other side of the Atlantic, the German government continues to pay reparations for a variety of wrongs committed during World War II.
However, the government of the Netherlands feels that they are entitled to tax these payments, seeking to take money paid to 86-year-old Holocaust survivor Inge Prenzlau as reparations for years of cruel treatment and slave labor under the Third Reich. They are tellin Prenzlau to “pay up” with taxes on her monthly payment from the German government of 140 euros, money paid to her for being the victim of Hitler’s schemes. Surely, the Dutch government does not need tax income so much that they cannot leave Prenzlau’s monthly stipend for such suffering untaxed.
Inge Prenzlau’s story is a sad one, as are so many from World War II, especially where the Jewish people are concerned. Prenzlau, who is Dutch and lived in the Netherlands in World War II, was forced by the Nazis to work in her father’s factory without pay as an 11-year-old. Every day, Inge had to go to her father’s business, which was two hours away by foot, in order to prevent the Nazis from confiscating the business and handing it over to a party member or a local collaborator.
This would continue for three years until her family went into hiding in 1943 when the Nazis decided to round up the Prenzlau family to send them to concentration camps. They successfully evaded capture by the Nazis until the end of the war, a feat that was difficult for many other Dutch Jews to accomplish. It was due to the Netherland government’s bureaucratic records the Nazis were easily able to round up and kill nearly 70% of the county’s Jewish populace.
It was for this horror that Inge Prenzlau was given what essentially amounted to a pension by the German government, which provided a monthly compensation of 140 euros. Furthermore, the German government, acknowledging that they were in the wrong and that this payment was destined for the hands of victims of Germany’s failures, decided to provide this money with no tax from the German government.
The Dutch taxation authority, on the other hand, does not feel the same and informed Inge that her pension is considered ‘income’ in the eyes of the Dutch government and that it means that the Dutch government is owed a tax of at LEAST 15.75% percent of her monthly pension. In other words, they’re arguing with a Holocaust survivor to say that she owes them at least 22 euros a month from a pension she receives for being enslaved in a ghetto.
Inge Prenzlau has made the wise choice to reach out to the local media in order to make it known that the Dutch government is demanding tax money from a pension paid to her for the horrors of the Holocaust. In a statement to the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagbold, Inge said “I can’t understand it. During the war, they all turned their backs on us. The government shouldn’t act this childish with us now. If it was a high amount, I might understand the government, but we’re talking about a very small sum every month.”
Inge is entirely correct. The Dutch government demanding 20 euros a month from a woman who suffered due to failures of the Dutch government itself is an absurdity and an insult.
Inge Prenzlau recognizes this and goes on to say that The Hague donates 1.4 billion euros to foreign countries every year, but somehow the Dutch government feels the need to come after 20 euros a month from Holocaust survivors.
Inge is entirely correct in her assessment. It is the bureaucratic attitudes of the socialistic Dutch government that caused her and other Jews to be so easily targeted for abuses by the Nazis as they rolled in the Netherlands. It is the failing of the Dutch military to equip themselves for modern warfare (at the time of the German invasion, the military was using World War I-era equipment) that made them unable to hold the German military back.
Now, for the failures of the Dutch government, Inge Prenzlau is expected to share the pittance she receives? That would be dark humor of the highest order if it were not so insulting.
The government of the Netherlands can find other revenue streams to replace that of the handful of citizens they wish to tax. Those who survived the Holocaust deserve every cent that they have been promised, and likely much more that they will never see.
The Dutch should be ashamed of their government and should voice their displeasure loudly and repeatedly.