SHARE
COPY LINK
SNCF AND THE HOLOCAUST

SNCF

Holocaust: France to pay US victims $60 million

France is to pay $60 million to compensate American victims of the Holocaust who were transported to Nazi death camps on French trains after a landmark deal was sealed, a French diplomat announced.

Holocaust: France to pay US victims $60 million
France to pay American families $60 million damages for SNCF's role in transporting Jews to death camps. Photo: AFP

The United States and France have sealed a landmark deal to compensate Americans and foreigners deported to Nazi death camps on French rail transport, a French diplomat announced Friday.

The deal, which has been long in the making, should now open the way to allow French rail firm SNCF to bid on major contracts in the US state of Maryland.

 "The US and France have reached a historic agreement for substantial compensation in connection with the deportation from France during the Holocaust," US negotiator Stuart Eizenstat said.

"This is another measure of justice for the harms of one of history's darkest eras," he told reporters, adding it was a good example of the close US-French partnership.

Several thousands people could be eligible for compensation, including nationals from Israel and Canada as well as Americans who were deported from France to the death camps during World War II.

News of the agreement came in simultaneous press briefings in Washington by both the US and French negotiators on Friday.

During the occupation of France by Germany, the Nazi regime deported almost 76,000 Jews to concentration camps in French freight cars between 1942 and 1944.

Only around 3,000 survived.

Maryland lawmakers had demanded that SNCF compensate the victims before being allowed to join a bidding process on a 16-mile (25-kilometer)
public-private light rail project worth nearly $3 billion for local projects and introduced bills to that effect.

But the French rail firm had protested that it had no choice as it was simply a "cog in the Nazi extermination machine" and that any eventual compensation should be paid by the French government.

The deal is due to be signed on Monday by US special advisor on Holocaust issues Stuart Eizenstat and French ambassador on human rights Patrizianna Sparacino-Thiellay.

Eizenstat told reporters Friday that under the terms of the "historic" deal Paris would pay a $60 million lump sum to Washington to compensate the survivors, or their spouses and heirs.

He had no exact figure of how many could be eligible, but said it was expected to run into "several thousand."

Survivors could receive up to $100,000 each, while spouses or heirs could several tens of thousands of dollars, he said.

The head of SNCF America, Alain Leray, hailed the settlement Friday saying it was "a welcome conclusion for all those who sought to win compensation for the victims and their families."

It will enter into law once it is voted on by the French parliament, and signed by President Barack Obama in an executive order.

SNCF, in eyeing the Maryland 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.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

TOURISM

How to find cheap train tickets in France

Travelling by train is one of the best ways to see France - even with a mandatory mask on. Here - from railcards to sales - is how you can make it even better by cutting the cost of your ticket.

A blue high-speed Ouigo low-cost TGV train arriving at  de l'Est railway station in Paris, with the the Sacre-Coeur Basilica in the background
From cheap services to railcards, here's how to save money on train travel. Photo: Joel Saget / AFP

Railcards are the most common way to cut the cost of a ticket. In some cases, the card can even pay for itself in one journey. France’s rail operator SNCF has a range of cards available for everyone from impoverished students to regular business travellers with an expenses account to burn.

But if you’re not a regular traveller there are also a range of offers plus cheaper services to opt for.

Let’s start with the railcards.

Liberté card

This one’s really for business travellers, who use the TGV or Ouigo and Intercite trains regularly. And it comes with a price to match – €399 for a year. This guarantees cardholders 60 percent off SNCF’s Business Première fares when travelling standard class, and  45 percent off Business Première fares when travelling 1st class. Plus, there’s between 25 percent and 50 percent off TER fares in certain regions, and it’s valid for use in other European countries.

Forfait pass

Effectively a season ticket, this one’s for commuters who regularly use TGV INOUI or Intercité services to get to work. Prices vary based on how much you travel, and you can get annual, monthly or weekly passes. Click here for a calculation of how much you will have to pay.

Avantage Senior 60+ card

SNCF relatively recently rebranded its railcards under the Avantage umbrella. If you’re aged 60 or over and travel occasionally with TGV Inoui, Intercités or TER in France, you will save 30 percent on first and standard class travel, for an annual fee of €49. And there’s 60 percent off ticket prices for up to three accompanying children aged between four and 11.

In fact, standard fares are capped for all destinations in France, no matter when you book. And that’s on top of a 30 percent guaranteed discount on 1st- and standard-class train tickets. 

You’re guaranteed affordable fares, even at the last minute. They’re currently capped as follows:

  • €39 or less for a short journey (under 90 minutes)
  • €59 or less for a medium-length journey (between 90 minutes and three hours)
  • €79 or less for the longest journey (over three hours)

Plus, there are savings on food and drink prices on the train – as well as other perks that are worth looking into.

Avantage Adulte Card

If you’re aged 27-59 and take TGV Inoui, Intercités or TER trains often, it’s worth looking into the Avantage Adulte card – which has replaced the Avantage Weekend and Avantage Famille cards – because you’ll save 30 percent on first and standard class tickets for the annual €49 fee.

Discounts extend to accompanying adults, and there’s 60 percent off ticket prices for up to three accompanying children aged between four and 11.

As with the Senior card, standard class fares are capped for all destinations in France. And you get the onboard perks too, including 15 percent off food and drink from the trolley.

Avantage Jeune Card

For anyone aged 12 to 27, the Avantage Jeune card will save you 30 percent on TGV Inoui and Intercité services that require booking for the annual €49 fee.

Standard class fares are capped for all destinations in France. And you get the onboard perks too, including 15 percent off food and drink from the trolley.

Other ways to save money

If you’re not a regular travellers and don’t want a railcard, there are other ways to save money when travelling.

Ouigo trains

SNCF’s low-cost TGV service offers high-speed cut-price travel in and out of Paris to 17 French destinations. There are drawbacks though, the trains have fewer on-board services and some of them only go to stations close to a city, rather than the city-centre station – so it’s worth checking when you book exactly where you will end up.

Children under 12 years of age can travel for €5 all year long, or €8 to or from a station in Paris.

Railcards are valid on Ouigo trains, cutting ticket prices further.

Happy Hour

Be aware of last-minute ‘Happy Hour’ deals on available on select days for selected Intercité trains to a selection of destinations around France. You could save up to 50 percent on ticket prices. And, yes, railcards are valid.

Ticket sales

Watch out, too, for announcements of when tickets are available for sale. From November 3rd, for example, rail tickets are available up to March 27, 2022 – and up to July 2, 2022, for Inoui tickets.

Early booking may get you a good deal, and SNCF offers regular deals particularly around peak travel times such as summer and Christmas. Downloading the SNCF app will get you advance notification of sales.

SHOW COMMENTS