The Holocaust in Norway - Restitution - Assessment of Financial Loss

Assessment of Financial Loss

As noted above, the Nazi authorities confiscated all Jewish property with an administrative penstroke. This included commercial property such as retail stores, factories, workshops, etc.; and also personal property such as residences, bank accounts, automobiles, securities, furniture, and other fixtures they could find. Jewelry and other personal valuables were usually taken by German officials as "voluntary contributions to the German war effort." In addition, Jewish professionals were typically deprived of any legal right to practice their profession: attorneys were disbarred, physicians and dentists lost their licenses, and craftsmen were locked out of their trade associations. Employers were pressured to fire all Jewish employees. In many cases, Jewish proprietors were forced to continue to work at their confiscated businesses for the benefit of the "new owners."

Assets were often sold at fire sale prices or assigned at a token price to Nazis, Germans, or their sympathizers.

The administration of these assets was performed by a "Liquidation board for confiscated Jewish assets" that accounted for the assets as they were seized and their disposition. For these purposes, the board continued to treat each estate as a bankrupt legal entity, charging expenses even after the assets had been disposed. As a result, there was a significant discrepancy between the value of the assets for the rightful owners, and the value assessed by the confiscating authorities.

This was further complicated by the methodology employed by the legitimate Norwegian government after the war. In order to restore confiscated assets to their owners, the government was guided by public policy to alleviate the economic impact on the economy by reducing compensation to approximate a sense of fairness and finance the reconstruction of the country's economy. The assessed value was thereby reduced by the Nazis' liquidation practices and was further reduced by the discounting applied as a result of governmental policy after the war.

Norwegian estate law imposes estate tax on inheritance passed from the deceased to his/her heirs depending on the relationship between the two. This tax was compounded at each step of inheritance. As no death certificates had been issued for Jews murdered in German concentration camps, the deceased were listed as missing. Their estates were held in probate pending a declaration of death and charged for administrative expenses.

By the time all these factors had had their effect on the valuation of the confiscated assets, very little was left. In total, NOK 7.8 million was awarded to principals and heirs of Jewish property confiscated by the Nazis. This was less than the administrative fees charged by governmental agencies for probate. It did not include assets seized by the government that belonged to non-Norwegian citizens, and that of citizens that left no legal heirs. This last category was formidable, as 230 entire Jewish households were killed during the course of the Shoah.

Read more about this topic:  The Holocaust In Norway, Restitution

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