Survivors lobby to sue French railroad

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Holocaust survivors lobbied in the U.S. Congress for a bill that would allow lawsuits against France’s national railroad, SNCF.

Bills introduced in March in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the Senate, and by a bipartisan slate of top lawmakers, would make SNCF and other railroads that transported Jews during the Holocaust subject to lawsuits in federal courts.

On April 28, Rosette Goldstein and Leo Bretholz briefed congressional staffers on their experiences.

Bretholz said he and a friend pried apart the bars of a transport headed for Auschwitz.

Goldstein, who as a child was protected by a Christian family, related how her father was transported.

“My father, like so many others, met his death because of the role SNCF played in the Holocaust,” she said. “I hope Congress will support this legislation that will finally allow us to gain justice from the company responsible for such atrocities.”

The proposed federal laws come in the wake of efforts in a number of states to force SNCF to publish its World War II-era records if its American subsidiary is to win contracts.

SNCF transported 76,000 Jews and other prisoners from the suburbs of Paris to the German border from 1942 to 1944. The company was paid per head per kilometer to deport the Nazi victims, according to reports.

The company has defended itself by saying its employees were under the control of the occupying Nazi forces. SNCF has posted material on its website claiming that “many railway workers took part in the French resistance.”

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