France Agrees to Compensate Holocaust Deportees

PARIS (AP) -

Thousands of Holocaust survivors and family members in the United States and elsewhere will be entitled to compensation from a $60 million French-U.S. fund announced Friday — reparations to those deported by France’s state rail company SNCF during the Nazi occupation.

As part of the deal, the U.S. government will work to end lawsuits and other compensation claims in U.S. courts against SNCF, which is bidding for lucrative high-speed rail and other contracts in U.S. markets. State legislators in Maryland, New York, Florida and California have tried to punish SNCF for its Holocaust-era actions.

“This is another measure of justice for the harms of one of history’s darkest eras,” said the U.S. Special Adviser on Holocaust Issues, Stuart Eizenstat, who spent three years working with French officials on the agreement.

SNCF transported about 76,000 French Jews to Nazi concentration camps, though experts disagree on its degree of guilt. SNCF has expressed regret for what happened, but argues it had no effective control over operations during the Nazi occupation from 1940 to 1944.

The compensation fund will be financed by the French government and managed by the United States. The accord will be signed Monday in Washington, but it still must get approval from the French Parliament, which could take months.