STATEMENT FROM THE AD HOC COALITION FOR
HOLOCAUST RAIL JUSTICE
ON THE DEATH OF LEO BRETHOLZ
It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce that Leo Bretholz passed away Saturday, two days after his 93rd birthday. For many years, Leo has been the face and the voice of the Coalition for Holocaust Rail Justice’s efforts to ensure that the 76,000 innocent Jews, as well as the thousands of other SNCF victims, who were sent toward the death camps on SNCF trains received the justice they deserved.
Most recently, Leo authored a petition on Change.org, calling on SNCF to pay reparations to its Holocaust-era victims and supporting Maryland legislation that would prevent companies from winning tax-funded rail projects until they were held accountable for deporting innocent victims toward the death camps. That petition has, thus far, received more than 154,000 signatures, and Leo was set to testify on the bill before the Maryland state legislature this week.
The passion Leo expressed in telling his story was palpable and captivating for all who were lucky enough to hear it. He was an incredibly brave man, first for escaping an SNCF train as a boy, later for sharing his story in his book “Leap Into Darkness: Seven Years on the Run in Wartime Europe” and through his work with our coalition and elsewhere to promote Holocaust education and remembrance. Leo was also an incredibly warm and welcoming man, who was always quick with a joke and a smile. His zeal for life and for his family was and is an inspiration to us all.
To know Leo was to love him and respect him, and our work to ensure justice for him and the thousands of other SNCF victims will continue in his memory.