The U.S. State Department will accept applications for restitution from Holocaust victims (and their family members) who were transported to concentration camps by the French rail company Societé Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais (SNCF), according to an announcement made last week by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
SNCF transported tens of thousands of Holocaust victims to concentration camps. Sen. Schumer sponsored the Holocaust Rail Justice Act, which makes SNCF liable for its actions in U.S. courts. The French government is now granting the U.S. government $60 million to be used to compensate claimants worldwide.
According to the State Department, the funds will be used to compensate those who survived deportation from France but are currently nationals of other countries, spouses of similar individuals, and estates representing such survivors and their spouses who have died since World War II. Each of these types of claimants, if approved, could receive more than $100,000.
“For decades, survivors and family members of those who perished have attempted to hold SNCF accountable for its active role during the Holocaust, however, it has continued to dodge responsibility for its collaboration with the Nazi regime. Next week, the State Department will begin accepting restitution applications from eligible survivors and their family members, which means that the French rail company will finally be held accountable for transporting thousands to their death during World War II,” said Sen. Schumer.
The agreement came into force Nov. 1 and applications will be accepted via a newly launched online portal beginning Nov. 3.