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March 4, 2019 5:06 pm

Dutch Euro Parliamentarian Pledges to Fight ‘Gross Injustice’ Faced by Holocaust Survivor Locked in Pension Battle With German Government

avatar by Ben Cohen

Dutch Holocaust survivor Albert de Leeuw was a child laborer in the Amsterdam Jewish ghetto. Photo: Courtesy of Albert de Leeuw.

A Dutch member of the European Parliament has demanded that the German government correct a “gross injustice” in the case of the Holocaust survivor whose struggle over several decades to secure a decent pension from the German government was reported on by The Algemeiner last year.

82-year-old Albert de Leeuw was receiving “peanuts,” while former members of the Nazi SS in various European countries continued to get generous pensions, European Parliament member Paul Tang said on Dutch television.

De Leeuw’s harrowing experiences as a Jewish child under Nazi occupation and subsequent legal battles with the German government were the subject of an Algemeiner feature last September.

Speaking to the news show Een Vandaag last week, Tang advocated “political and social pressure on Berlin” to stop the payment of pensions to war criminals and, at the same time, speedily review cases, like de Leeuw’s, in which far lower sums have been paid to victims of the Nazis.

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Monthly pensions of up to 1, 300 euros ($1,500) continue to be paid to Nazi collaborators by the German government, while de Leeuw receives just 28 euros ($30). That sum was calculated by Germany’s pensions authority based on the six months during 1942 that de Leeuw, then six years old, spent as a child laborer in the Amsterdam Ghetto.

“It is a gross injustice that, on one hand, that there are tax-free payments made to former members of the SS, and yet people like Albert de Leeuw are receiving peanuts,” said Tang, who represents The Netherlands’ left-wing PvdA party in the European Parliament. He pledged to raise de Leeuw’s case directly with Jean-Claude Juncker, the current president of the Brussels-based European Commission, and other leading European politicians.

Renewed interest in de Leeuw’s case was stirred by the revelation last month that more than 50 elderly pensioners in The Netherlands and Belgium continue to receive the so-called “Hitler pension” from Germany — itself the result of a 1951 law passed by the West German Parliament that benefited more than 4 million people around Europe who qualified for “war pensions.”

Amended legislation in 1998 did allow for the revocation of pensions to recipients who were involved in Nazi crimes against humanity. A 2016 review found, however, that pensions had been stopped by the German authorities in only 99 out of thousands of cases. In a resolution adopted last month, the Belgian Parliament urged Germany to review its policies. Pensions for “collaboration in one of the most murderous regimes in history is in contradiction with collective remembrance,” the parliament declared.

Despite suffering from Parkinson’s disease, de Leeuw remains as doggedly determined now as he was when he spoke to The Algemeiner last year. In a Feb. 23 interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, he said he hoped that joint pressure from The Netherlands and Belgium would persuade the German authorities to re-examine his case.

“I will continue [this fight] until I die,” de Leeuw said during that interview. “For me, the war isn’t over — I’m still in the middle of it.”

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