World Bulletin/News Desk
France will pay $60 million to Jews transported by the state-owned railway trains to Nazi death camps during World War II.
The payments come under the terms of an agreement with the U.S.
Negotiations on the compensation deal, which will be signed Monday in Washington, and which needs to be ratified by the French legislature, started two years ago.
France's then-president, Jacques Chirac, officially acknowledged in 1995 French complicity in the wartime deportations. But it was only in 2009 that France's highest court recognized the state's responsibility.
The agreement involves hundreds of death camps survivors, their spouses, children and heirs, according to Patrizianna Sparacino, France’s ambassador for human rights in charge of Holocaust issues.
"For now, the goal is that the surviving deportees receive about $100,000 each," she said this week.
The fund will be sponsored by Paris and administered by Washington.
It provides a "measure of justice for the harms of one of history’s darkest eras," U.S. Special Adviser on Holocaust Issues, Stuart Eizenstat, told reporters in Washington.
The deal concerns non-French nationals who were citizens of the U.S. and other countries that do not have bilateral reparations agreements with France.
As part of the agreement, SNCF, the national train company, has separately agreed to re-issue a statement expressing "sorrow and regret" for its role in the deportations.
SNCF will contribute $4 million to Holocaust education and commemoration in the U.S., France and Israel, according to Eizenstat.
In return, U.S. is expected to help ease obstacles impeding SNCF from taking part on American railway projects because of pressure made by U.S. lawmakers.
Until now, the French railway company has used diplomatic immunities to resist lawsuits brought by American survivors.
The company is aiming now to bid on a contract in the U.S. state of Maryland as part of a consortium comprising fellow French firms Alstom and Vinci. The winning bid is expected to be picked by early next year.
During World War II, France deported by its SNCF trains about 76,000 Jews to concentration camps known between 1942 and 1944. The majority died and only around 3,000 survived.
Last Mod: 06 Aralık 2014, 11:42