U.S., France in talks for rails Holocaust reparations

WASHINGTON (JTA) – The French government is in negotiations with the U.S. Department of State concerning reparations to Holocaust survivors who were deported to Nazi death camps in French trains.

Stuart Eizenstat, a veteran U.S. negotiator on reparation issues, confirmed to the Washington Post on Friday that negotiations have been underway for about a year, and were initiated by the French. The most recent talks were in Paris on Feb. 6, he said.

The French rail company Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais, or SNCF, transported 76,000 Jews and other prisoners to death camps. SNCF was paid per person per kilometer to provide the trains, cars and manpower. The trains traveled from the suburbs of Paris to Nazi concentration camps from 1942 to 1944.

SNCF has paid more than $6 billion in reparations to survivors in Europe but nothing to American Holocaust survivors, accord to the Post article.

The Coalition for Holocaust Justice, which has been speaking out for reparations for many years, said in a statement that it was encouraged by news of the talks.

“SNCF is one of the few companies that has refused to pay reparations for its role in the Holocaust, and there is little time left to ensure that SNCF’s victims realize some measure of justice and closure in their lifetimes,” the coalition said in its statement.

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