Friday, June 09, 2006

french court finds state, railroad guilty in deportation of jews

A court in Tolouse, France, has found the French Government and the national railroad (SNCF) liable for damages for their role in deporting Jews to concentration camps during World War II. The court found that "the French administration manifestly could not ignore that their transfer . . . facilitated an operation that must normally have been the prelude to the deportation of the persons involved," adding that "the State and the SNCF did more than was demanded of them by the Germans" with respect to the deportation of Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals during the period concerned. For its part the SNCF "never made any objection or protest regarding the activity of these transports," even continuing to demand payment of the transportation costs after the Liberation of France. (Note: translations are mine but should convey the meaning accurately). The French Government was required to pay a sum of 62,000 Euros to the plaintiffs, led by the European Deputy Alain Lipietz (Green Party) whose parents were among those deported. The case appears to mark the first time that the French Government was held liable in court for its role in the deportations, although politicians have accepted a measure of moral reponsibility in the past. A government commission, headed by Jean Matteoli, presented a lengthy report on the spoilation of Jewish property during the Vichy period five years ago.


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