News / USA

New Maryland Rail Line Stirs Up Holocaust Reparations Debate

New Maryland Rail Line Stirs Up Holocaust Reparations Debatei
X
Carla Babb
March 28, 2014 6:54 PM
During World War II, France’s state-run railway the Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais, or SNCF, transported thousands of Jews to their deaths in Nazi prison camps. Today, the same rail company is the majority stockholder bidding on a light rail project in the U.S. state of Maryland. Some Maryland lawmakers are pushing for SNCF to pay reparations to Holocaust victims and their families before participating in the project. VOA’s Carla Babb reports from Silver Spring, Maryland.
Carla Babb
— During World War II, France’s state-run railway, the Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais, or SNCF, transported thousands of Jews to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps.  Today, the same rail company is the majority stockholder bidding on a light rail project in the U.S. state of Maryland.  Some Maryland lawmakers are pushing for SNCF to pay reparations to Holocaust victims and their families before participating in the project.  

“The suffering didn’t end in the gas chambers and the crematoria of Auschwitz,” said Maryland resident Ellen Lightman. Her aunt, two grandparents and two great-grandparents were among 76,000 people - mostly Jews - transported by SNCF trains to Nazi death camps.

“And there was always this hole about what were they really like," she wonders.

During World War II, France was overrun by German troops, and French trains and rail employees were placed under Nazi control.

“They were paid per head, per kilometer to transport people. Human beings! They were complicit and they need to be held accountable," she said.

“SNCF did not do it. The Nazis did it," said Alain Leray, president of SNCF America

“Eight hundred [SNCF employees] were executed because they had disobeyed orders," he said. "Another 1,200 were deported and murdered in deportation. So when I hear that we were somehow complicit, were we really complicit with more than 2,100 of our employees being murdered by the Nazis?”

International agreements between France, which controls SNCF, and other countries have already provided remedies for Holocaust victims.

“It is actually the French government that needs to get off the dime and provide for the U.S. what it has for four other countries," said international law professor Mark Lagon.

Some worry that pushing SNCF to pay reparations now could damage current French-American negotiations.

“I feel the opposite,"said Lagon. "It’s, in a sense, the bad cop that allows negotiations to take place successfully with a good cop in the executive branch."

For SNCF, billions of dollars are at stake ahead of fast approaching bidding deadlines.

For Lightman, justice has no expiration date. Holding a letter marked “return to sender” sent to her grandfather after he was transported out of a Nazi concentration camp for Jews in Gurs, France, she vows to fight on, continuing to speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves.

“There is no cutoff for forgetting or not remembering," said Lightman.

Officials involved in the negotiations say they hope to settle the dispute on Holocaust reparations for U.S. citizens by the end of summer.  That is well within the timeframe for building the new line here, since the winning bid will be selected in 2015.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: David
March 28, 2014 2:51 PM
Reparation in some form should be made on the Company who need to show remorse and empathy. Shocking that it has taken this long for reparation to be made and Germany too, should make a contribution for their part as well. How good it would be if they did, out of moral honesty, over this tragic past.


by: Joseph Effiong from: calabar - nigeria
March 28, 2014 12:16 PM
Our today's doing can affect us positively or negatively for even a million years. Hitler's wickedness will never be forgotten .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid