Maryland lawmakers, Holocaust survivors target French rail company over Nazi ties

A French SNCF train. Credit: Credit: Peter Rabijns via Wikimedia Commons.

( A group of Holocaust survivors and Maryland state lawmakers are attempting to prohibit French rail company SNCF, through its U.S. subsidiary Keolis, from bidding on a $6 billion commuter rail project due to the company’s role in the Holocaust.

Maryland Senate Bill 754, introduced by State Senator Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore) and Delegate Kirill Reznik (D-Montgomery County), seeks to deny the contract to Keolis and SNCF due to their Nazi collaboration and refusal to pay compensation to Holocaust survivors.

The bill is also supported by a petition, launched by 92-year-old Holocaust survivor Leo Bretholz, which has gathered nearly 64,000 signatures. 

According to the petition, SNCF transported more than 76,000 Jews, including 11,000 children and thousands of U.S. military pilots, to Nazi death camps during World War II. Bretholz said SNCF willingly collaborated with the Nazis, being paid per head, per kilometer for their transport. 

Last year, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) along with U.S. Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) passed the Holocaust Rail Justice Act to allow victims to open up compensation suits in U.S. courts.

“I am almost 93 years old now. If I hadn’t jumped off that SNCF train, I would have died when I was 21. In whatever time I have left, I will keep telling my story, and keep fighting for what is right,” Bretholz said.

Posted on February 7, 2014 .