The war left Europe in a state of poverty, financial entanglements and confusion that often blighted survivor’s lives for years while being sorted out.

Take, for instance, the case of a man we’ll call Junior.  In 1924, when he was five years old, his parents divorced.  He stayed with his mother in the Netherlands while his father, whom we’ll call Senior, moved to Paris to paint.  Junior rarely saw his father and even more rarely received any sort of financial support from him.  But during the war Junior occasionally sent some Dutch friends to his father’s address in Paris, and his father helped these young men on their way to Spain.  In that way, Senior got involved in Dutch-Paris.  For that, he was arrested in March 1944 and perished in Dachau.

Shortly after the war ended, in the summer of 1945, Junior traveled to Paris to settle his father’s estate, such as it was.  He was shocked to discover that the Dutch Embassy in Paris expected him to pay the rent his father owed for his apartment between his arrest in March 1944 and the day the embassy moved a Dutch family into the flat in December 1944.  But both an official at the embassy and John Weidner, chief of the Dutch Resistance in France, assured the young man that of course he wouldn’t have to pay the Ffrs 5,371 for rent due while his father was suffering in a concentration camp.

As it was, the young man owed the municipality of The Hague 4,000 Dutch guilders for a scholarship to finish his engineering studies and had a wife and two small children to support.  He also incurred a debt of 1,221 Dutch guilders to have his father’s furniture, books and canvasses shipped to the Netherlands.  Why not sell them in France?  He felt it would be disrespectful of his father’s memory.  He also realized that he himself, his sister and his aunt, who had lost everything while in a Japanese internment camp, needed furniture at a time when scarcely any was available.

But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs kept sending Junior solemn letters regarding the payment of his father’s rent.  Junior appealed to Weidner, who made several unsuccessful appeals to various funds on his behalf.  When the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified Junior that he was liable for his father’s unpaid French taxes, totaling 18,841.50 French francs, he lost all belief in earthly justice.  He also seems to have lost his confidence in Weidner’s ability to help him, because his letters stop there.

So I can’t tell you how it ended, I can’t even guess.  On the one hand you have a young man being held liable for his father’s debts that he can’t pay.  But they’re not ordinary debts.  They’re debts charged to his father after his father had been forcibly removed from his home and sent to his death in a German concentration camp because he had been helping patriotic Dutchmen as part of the Dutch Resistance.  One could, and some did, argue that that was a debt that the Resistance should bear.

On the other hand, the Dutch government was so thoroughly impoverished by the war and reconstruction that the Prime Minister offered visitors one cookie and one cookie only.  Why should the Dutch taxpayers pay for apartments in Paris?

And that’s not even among the most complicated financial tangles created by the war.