Dutch to use looted gold to aid its Shoah survivors

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Holland wants to use its $10 million share of an international gold pool to help its own Jewish community.

"Part of this gold was stolen from the Jews in our country," said Joop van Kemenade, chairman of the Dutch government committee investigating restitution of Jewish property.

His comment was to explain why Holland doesn't want to contribute the funds to a newly created international fund for Holocaust survivors.

The United States and Britain launched the international fund at last week's Nazi gold conference in London, held under the auspices of the Tripartite Gold Commission.

The conference was geared in part to determine how 5.6 tons of residual gold, currently worth between $55 million and $60 million, should be distributed by the commission.

The United States, Britain and France created the commission after World War II to distribute looted Nazi gold back to its rightful owners.

Stuart Eizenstat, the Clinton administration's point man on the Nazi gold issue, has offered the Dutch the option of spending $10 million from the new fund on projects for Dutch survivors, provided that Holland agrees to participate in the fund.

Nine countries have so far committed more than $15 million to the fund. The United States pledged $4 million, rising to $25 million if Congress approves. And Britain said it would contribute $1.7 million.

Luxembourg, Croatia, Greece, Poland and Austria — which all have claims to the Tripartite gold — said they were ready to transfer part or all of their claims to the new fund. Brazil and Argentina also said they plan to make donations.

France, like Holland, has indicated that it would not contribute its share to the fund — some $21 million — but instead give it to its own Jewish population.

Whether the United States, Britain and France will agree to the Dutch plan is uncertain, but Dutch Jewry is already debating how to distribute the funds.