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Hungarian Railways sued over WW2 role

Feb. 16, 2010 at 4:33 PM

CHICAGO, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- A Northwestern University law professor has sued the Hungarian State Railways on behalf of Jews deported to camps during World War II.

Anthony D'Amato, who teaches international law, is seeking compensation for property stolen from Hungarian Jews, the Chicago Tribune reports. In a brief filed last week in federal court in Chicago, D'Amato said the state railways were complicit in the Holocaust and that Jews leaving Hungary for Auschwitz and other concentration camps had to leave their suitcases behind when they were loaded into boxcars.

"As soon as the train left the station, railroad employees and their friends leaped upon the piles of suitcases, tearing them open with knives and pliers, and grabbing every valuable item," D'Amato said in his filing.

D'Amato, who is seeking class-action status for the lawsuit, asks for $240 million in compensation, an estimate of one-fifth of the total wealth of the Hungarian Jewish community. He has sued based on stolen property because international law limits lawsuits against foreign governments and state-owned entities.

The plaintiffs include Magda Brown, 82, who was deported to Auschwitz on her 17th birthday. Her parents were killed in 1944 while she survived as a slave laborer.

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