• 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
Pokémon Go sparks chaos and politicians' anger in France
Teenagers sprint through a park in Bordeaux, not in panic, but in search of a rare Pokemon. Photo: MonsieurBright/YouTube

Videos of hundreds of people sprinting through a park would normally be cause for panic in France at the moment.

The ten places where you really need to speak French
Photo: Lily A./Flickr

There are some places and situations in France where you just have to speak French.

Isis can be a conduit for psychopaths' violent desires
A pilce of rubbish marks the spot where Nice truck attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was shot by police.

Isis did not create these attackers, they were well on their way.

Angry Marseille Muslim ends up in war of words with Isis
Photo: Facebook Henni Mohamed/AFP

"Who do you think you are, the Power Rangers?" Marseille man's foul-mouthed fighting talk provokes Isis to respond.

Thousands of travellers face seven-day Air France strike
Photo: mariordo59/Flickr

The strike is set to run from July 27th to August 2nd and as many as 130,000 passengers could be affected.

No, Dover travel chaos wasn't French revenge for Brexit

What a load of Brex**it. Resources, not revenge, is the big issue for the French.

The worst scams to avoid whilst driving in France
A French motorway. Photo: Maelick/Flickr

Don't get caught out by these common ploys gangs of thieves have used to target motorists in France.

Hoax bomb found at Paris Metro station
Photo: AFP

Bomb squad called in to a Paris Metro station after the discovery of a bag with a walkie-talkie antenna and red wires sticking out.

Five key moments in Chris Froome' Tour de France win
The victorious Christopher Froome. Photo: AFP

Here are the key moments that earned Christopher Froome his third Tour de France victory.

Terror attack in Nice
Policewoman's Nice claims leave government in crisis
Photo: AFP

The pressure is mounting on the French government after a policewoman claimed she was pressured to change her report over security measures in Nice on the night of the July 14th attack.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Analysis & Opinion
Isis can simply be a conduit for the violent desires of psychopaths
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Politics
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
National
Ten reasons not to leave Paris this summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Ten ways other expats in France drive you mad
'Very Stupid' village in France honoured for its silly name
Travel
Ten crazy things to do in France if you dare
Society
Paris: an obstacle course for wheelchair users
2,765
jobs available