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French Assembly Votes to Give Holocaust Survivors Reparations

AP Photo/Jean Francois Badias
AP Photo/Jean Francois Badias

The French National Assembly voted on Wednesday to distribute $60 million to non-French victims of the Holocaust. The fund is set to be administered by the United States. It will be distributed to foreign nationals who were deported from France to Nazi death camps, especially Auschwitz, on French rail lines.

Nazis deported over 76,000 Jews during their occupation of France. Only 3,000 survived the camps.

According to historians of the Holocaust, SCNF, the French national rail company, was paid per head per kilometer by the Nazi regime.

In 1946, the French government set up a plan to pay reparations to French Jews who were deported. The new program approved by the Assembly will not provide any new funds to French nationals or their families.

Plans for the $60 million reparations program were made last winter, and now that the lower house of the French parliament has approved it, it merely needs to pass the Senate’s vote on July 9.

The conservative opposition parties represented in the French Assembly abstained from the vote on this program.

Each claimant will likely receive around $100,000. Non-French survivors are eligible under this program if they were deported from France while living there between 1942 and 1944. Unlike other reparations programs, victims and survivors are not the only ones who can apply for money—their estates can, too.

“Both sides will do everything possible to ensure that compensation is paid as quickly as possible,” a spokesman said.

In return for the French funding of this program, the United States will protect French immunity from any Holocaust deportation claims made in U.S. courts.

In addition to the $60 million in reparations, the French national rail company has agreed to pay $4 million for Holocaust education efforts in France, Israel, and the U.S. They have also issued a statement expressing their “sorrow and regret” for the part they played in the death and suffering of the Holocaust.

“There is no amount of money that could ever make up for the horrific injustice done to these victims and their families,” Anti-Defamation League president and Holocaust survivor Abraham Foxman said. “But agreements like this provide some modest redress, an important recognition of their pain, and acknowledge the responsibility of governments and institutions to leave no stone unturned in seeking every possible measure of justice for Holocaust victims.”


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