(JNS.org) A new $60 million French and U.S. government fund has been established to compensate Holocaust survivors in the U.S. who were deported to concentration camps by France's state rail company SNCF.
SNCF has been trying to get major high-speed rail contracts in the U.S., but state legislators in Maryland, New York, Florida and California have been trying to punish the company for its Nazi-era record. SNCF had transported about 76,000 French Jews to Nazi concentration camps.
The new fund was announced Friday and will be signed Monday in Washington.
"This is another measure of justice for the harms of one of history's darkest eras," said US Special Adviser on Holocaust Issues Stuart Eizenstat, the Associated Press reported.
The French rail company, which is not part to the agreement, has already been paying reparations to French Holocaust survivors and their descendants, but the new fund will compensate an additional 250 direct survivors and spouses of survivors in the U.S. Thousands more may be eligible as descendants of survivors.
"The objective today was to be able to provide reparations – even 70 years later – that they could claim, given the trauma, the barbarity and the horror that the deportation represented for them," said Patrizianna Sparacino-Thiellay, a French ambassador for human rights and spoliation, who was involved in negotiating the deal.
“The U.S. and French governments have admirably found a solution that will bring a measure of justice to victims of the SNCF deportations,” Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Director of International Jewish Affairs, said in a statement.