France mulling payments to U.S. survivors sent to Nazi camps by rail

Feb. 22, 2014 at 2:41 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Holocaust survivors in the United States deported from France to Nazi concentration camps aboard French trains may soon get reparations, an official says.

France, which has resisted paying reparations for the involvement of its state-owned rail line, appears to have changed its mind because of pending federal legislation that would make it easier for victims to sue, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

Stuart Eizenstat, a Washington attorney who advises the U.S. State Department on Holocaust issues, said France began formal talks earlier this month and wants to conclude them by December.

The railroad, the Societe Nationales des Chemins de fer Francais (SNCF), is believed to have carried 76,000 Jews and other people to camps in Germany in cattle cars.

A number of commuter rail lines, buses and taxi systems around the United States are operated by SNCF, including in several cities in California, said company spokesman Leslie Aun.

The California Legislature passed a bill four years ago that required rail companies wanting to do business in the state to say whether they had transported prisoners to concentration camps during World War II. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

France already pays about $45,000 a year in reparations to rail deportees in France and Europe. Up to 600 people in the United State could eligible for payments, the Times reported.

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