• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

US wants swift deal with SNCF over Nazi trains

AFP/The Local · 10 Apr 2014, 09:29

Published: 10 Apr 2014 09:29 GMT+02:00

Spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed the United States and France were in talks on "compensation for victims of deportations by rail from France to Nazi labor and death camps as well as for victims' families."

And she called on "all concerned to avoid actions that undermine the ongoing compensation talks."

"It is our mutual aim to conclude these talks as quickly as possible," Psaki added in a statement.

But she hit out at state assemblies such as Maryland and New York which she said had "begun to pose a serious obstacle to achieving this goal."

During the occupation of France by Germany and the so-called Vichy regime, SNCF deported some 76,000 Jews to concentration camps in freight cars between 1942 and 1944. Only around 3,000 survived, according to the state-owned company.

SNCF has said it was a "cog in the Nazi extermination machine" and that any eventual compensation should be paid by the French government.

But the sensitive, decades-long issue of SNCF's role in the deportations is threatening a reported $2.2-billion contract between the rail company and the US state of Maryland.

Maryland lawmakers had demanded that SNCF compensate the victims before being allowed to join the bidding process for local projects and introduced bills to that effect.

But those measures never made it to a vote in either the eastern state's House or Senate during the 2014 legislative period that ended at midnight Monday, according to sources in both chambers.

This means that SNCF, via its subsidiary Keolis America, will be able to bid on the 16-mile (25-kilometer) public-private light rail project between now and this summer.

Story continues below…

During emotional hearings in March in Annapolis, Maryland, Holocaust survivors and their families had demanded they be compensated for their ordeal.

"The current American-French dialogue, in our view, represents the best means of reaching an agreement that will meet the concerns expressed by lawmakers in these states," Psaki said.

SNCF, in eyeing the rail contract, is part of a consortium comprising fellow French firms Alstom and Vinci. A winning bid is expected to be picked by the end of the year or in early 2015.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Euro 2016
Five things you didn't know about France and Ireland
Photos: AFP

France and Ireland have more than a few interesting connections. Here are our favourite five.

Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
Photo: AFP

The Brexit vote has prompted a mixed bag of reactions from the French public.

Opinion - Brexit seen from abroad
'Today it's hard not to feel ashamed to be British'
Photo: AFP

Apologies France, we may have just messed up your country too.

Brexit
French in UK: 'Brexit vote is clearly against foreigners'
The French Bookshop in London's Kensington. Photo: AFP

Spare a thought for the French people living in the UK right now. They didn't even get to vote.

Hollande: Brexit vote 'a grave test for Europe'
Photo: AFP

President Francois Hollande said on Friday that he already regrets the UK's "painful choice".

Brexit - Property
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
A house of sale in La-Faute-sur-Mer (Vendée). Photo: Frank Perry/AFP

The dream move to France may have to be put on hold or simply dropped.

Brexit
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Brits won't be forced home, of course, but are forced to live in limbo for a while. Photo: AFP

So what happens now for Brits in France? Nothing too dramatic, but a lot of uncertainty amid legal limbo.

Brexpats on Brexit
Brexit: Life for Brits in France will get more complicated
Will France still be paradise for British expats after a Brexit? Photo: Simon/FlickR

After Britain voted to leave the EU, here's a look at what an EU legal expert had to say about the possible knock on effects for expats in France.

France up next? Le Pen hails Brexit and demands vote

Friday's historic Brexit vote has sent tremors across the English Channel, where the political class had mixed reactions to the news that the UK had voted to leave the EU.

Worried after Brexit? Here's how to become French
Could it be time to become a French citizen? Photo: AFP

After the UK voted for Brexit, many Brits in France will no doubt explore the possibility of becoming a French citizen. Here's some guidance.

Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
International
French police appear unprepared for hooligan threat at Euro 2016
Sport
An A to Z guide of what to expect in France for Euro 2016
Sport
France bans matches from being shown on cafe terraces
National
Readers' views: 'If Brexit happens I'm becoming French just to stay in EU'
Technology
Should this be the new Metro map for Paris?
2,734
jobs available