Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Shoah survivors seek reparations from French railways

From JPost 15 Feb 2011, by JORDANA HORN:

NEW YORK – A new website ... is the latest line of attack in a longstanding quest of a group of Holocaust survivors to get reparations from the French national railway company that transported people to concentration and death camps during World War II.

SNCF transported over 75,000 people to such camps.

...SNCF has acknowledged its role in the Holocaust and has posted information relating to its WWII history on its own website, issuing its first formal apology for its role in the Holocaust in January, but has made no effort to pay reparations.

...“SNCF’s recent decision to issue its first ‘apology’ for its role in the Holocaust was a calculated gesture to ensure the company’s ability to compete for billions of American taxpayer dollars,” the website reads. ...
Thus far, however, SNCF has not been found liable for reparations in US courts due to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which sets limits on whether a foreign state can be sued in a US court.

As SNCF, a French national entity, has recently begun to bid for highspeed rail contracts in American states including California, Maryland and Florida, survivors have tried to pursue redress through legislative channels instead.

Recent developments include a bill introduced last week by Maryland state lawmakers, which would require companies bidding on mass transit rail contracts to disclose whether or not they were involved in transporting victims to German concentration camps.

...Federal legislation that would give US courts jurisdiction to hear civil claims against SNCF over its role in the Holocaust will be reintroduced soon, according to New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, whose first attempt to pass such a law never reached a vote.

“The legislation would simply preclude SNCF from raising the defense of foreign sovereign immunity and allow the survivors’ suit... to go forward,” Prober said. “This is not what the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act was intended to cover.”
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