U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented today on the recent announcement by the French railway company SNCF, which transported Jews to concentration camps during World War II for profit, that it has made digital copies of its Holocaust-era archives available to Yad Vashem, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Shoah Memorial. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“While SNCF’s decision to open its archives is an important step toward taking responsibility for its transgressions, there is still considerable work to be done to make amends for its role transporting Jews to death camps.
“Transparency and honesty about the past is important and necessary, but it is not enough. SNCF must pay reparations to those who suffered as a result of their wartime actions. It is my hope that the disclosure of these records indicates that SNCF has turned over a new leaf, but the company must prove that it can not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk.” Continue Reading
Cosponsor HR 1193, the Holocaust Rail Justice Act
It is with a renewed sense of urgency that we ask you to become a cosponsor of legislation that will grant Holocaust survivors their long-awaited and much deserved day in court.
Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear the only pending action against SNCF. Now, more than ever, the Holocaust Rail Justice Act represents the only recourse for these survivors. Continue Reading
Please join in becoming an original cosponsor of legislation that will grant Holocaust survivors their long-awaited and much deserved day in court.
During World War II, more than 75,000 Jews and other “undesirables” were transported from France to Nazi death camps aboard trains operated by the Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais (“SNCF”). Among those transported to death camps on SNCF trains were American airmen shot down over France. SNCF operated the trains as a commercial venture and were paid per head, per kilometer to deliver thousands to their ultimate deaths. Continue Reading
“I have been made aware of a concern that has been raised about a company and their participation in Florida’s High Speed Rail project and its involvement with the Holocaust during World War II. I, like many others, have been touched by the stories told of those tragic days in world history, and am personally offended by this latest information. Therefore, I have instructed our Secretary of Transportation, Stephanie Kopelousos, and her team to review these allegations and insure [sic] that all prospective participants in Florida’s High Speed Rail project strictly meet all the qualifications criteria under state and federal law.”
“I have filed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to require companies who are competing for high speed rail contracts to disclose their participation in Holocaust-era deportations. Many of those aboard SNCF trains to Nazi death camps and their family members are current Florida residents and have spoken out about their heartbreaking experiences aboard SNCF trains or watching their loved ones being forced into SNCF cattle cars, never to be seen again. … The history of the Holocaust is sacred, and cannot, and will not, be rewritten or revised to suit any particular company’s purpose, particularly if that purpose is to seek taxpayer dollars from some of the very victims it deported to concentration camps.”
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“Before we consider doing business with [SNCF], I believe we must insist upon transparency and accountability for its past actions. Floridians’ tax dollars are committed to high-speed rail projects, and it is our responsibility to ensure that operations are completed by vendors we trust.”
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“I write today to share concerns brought to my attention by our state’s Holocaust survivors and their families regarding one of the companies interested in bidding for our state’s high-speed rail projects, the French National Railways (SNCF). … At a minimum, SNCF should respond to requests for transparency and open their records for inspection by the concerned parties.”
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“Simply put, there should be no length of time after which we disregard a company’s history of partnership in the genocidal acts of Nazi Germany. … Specifically in this case, the taxpayers must be assured that no vendor doing work on projects for the State of Florida was an agent in carrying out the Holocaust.”
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“Companies that conducted Nazi crimes against humanity – sometimes even profiting from genocide – are unworthy of taxpayer contracts, and the State of Florida should take that into account. The many Holocaust survivors living in Florida should not be subsidizing the same companies that participated in the murder of their families and communities.”
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Maloney: “Almost 70 years after enabling the largest mass murder of the 20th Century, railroads that transported tens of thousands to their deaths should finally be held accountable,” Maloney said. “Nothing will ever make up for the unthinkable atrocities undertaken by Nazi Germany and its sympathizers during World War II, but every bit of justice is important. This bill allows some measure of closure for those who have suffered for far too long.”
Ros-Lehtinen: “Companies that benefited from the deportation of persons to concentration camps during the Holocaust must be held accountable for their despicable actions. This bill will help ensure that Holocaust survivors and heirs of victims are able to seek legal redress against those who sought to gain from the blood of innocent people.”
Nadler: “The atrocities of the Holocaust would have been impossible if not for the Nazi’s many willing accomplices. Among those many accomplices, the French national railway knowingly transported tens of thousands of Jews and others to concentration camps during World War II, and, for this, it has yet to be held accountable. This legislation would ensure that survivors of the Holocaust can confront the railway and hold it accountable for its terrible history.”
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