News & Politics

Holocaust Survivor, 86, Must Pay Taxes on 'Ghetto Slave' Compensation, Dutch Government Says

A group of Polish Jews are being held at gunpoint by German SS soldiers, April/May 1943, during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto by German troops after an uprising in the Jewish quarter. (AP Photo)

It doesn’t get more insane than this: a Jewish woman, 86, has been told by the Dutch government that she will have to pay taxes on a pension she receives every month from the German government.

Now, it may sound a tad bit weird that Germany is paying a Dutch woman 140 euros every month, but the reason is that Inge Prenzlau is Jewish. During the Second World War, the Nazi occupiers forced her to work in her father’s company without pay. Every day, young Inge (then 11 years old) had to walk two hours to her father’s pill factory to prove to the Nazis that the family was still tied to their business so it wouldn’t be confiscated. Her father couldn’t work because he was extremely ill. In 1943, her slavery ended when she and her family had to go into hiding. The Nazis had decided to round up the family — like other Jewish families — and send them to concentration camps.

After the war, the German government felt it had to reach out to such “ghetto slaves” and provide them with compensation in the form of a modest pension.  Because they truly were victims, the Germans decided not to levy taxes on that pension, so Prenzlau receives her 140 euros tax-free.

The Dutch government isn’t happy with that. The Dutch equivalent of the IRS told Prenzlau that her pension is considered “income,” which means it’s subject to income taxes. Ridiculous, of course.

Prenzlau has reached out to the media in order to get her story out. She told the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad, “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.”

She rightfully added that the government’s demands become downright outrageous when you realize that The Hague “donates 1.4 billion euros to foreign countries,” but that the few Jewish people who enjoy a tax-free pension from the German government have to pay up. And be quick about it too.