Survivors’ push spurs Fla. to spurn French railroad’s donation


NEW YORK (JTA) — Florida Holocaust survivors convinced the state’s education commissioner to reject Holocaust education donations from a French railroad that transported thousands of Jews to their deaths.

Education Commissioner Gerald Robinson informed SNCF America, the U.S. subsidiary of the French National Railroad, that Florida would not accept $80,000 for a program focusing on France’s role in the Holocaust, the Sun Sentinel reported.

Survivors living in Florida had fought SNCF’s involvement in the program, accusing the company of failing to take full responsibility for its wartime crimes. SCNF trains transported nearly 76,000 Jews to their deaths.

The survivors’ campaign had drawn the support of U.S. lawmakers.

Although the railroad issued a statement of regret last year, it added that the trains were commandeered by the Nazis. 

"We believe that while history cannot be unlived, it need not be repeated," SNCF America spokesman Jerry Ray said. "The best way to accomplish this objective is through the education of future generations."

However, the survivors in opposition claimed that the donation was little more than a public relations ploy aimed at opening up the American market.

In 2007, SNCF won an appeal in France freeing the company from individual responsibility for war crimes. Earlier this year, the U.S. Congress introduced a bill that would strip that "sovereign immunity" from foreign entities, allowing lawsuits to be filed against SNCF. 

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