France

French railways hand over WWII dossiers to holocaust museums

AFP

France’s state-run railway, the SNCF, has handed over digital copies of its archives for the World War II period to three Holocaust museums. Nearly 100,000 Jews were deported by rail to Nazi death camps while France was under German occupation.

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The documents, which cover the period 1939 to 1945, have been handed over to the Shoah Memorial in Paris, the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and the Holocaust Museum in Washington over the last two months, said an SNCF statement.

The SNCF provided space at the station in Bobigny, north of Paris, from where
20,000 Jews were sent to perish in death camps between 1943 and 1944.

Goods trains carried 76,000 Jews to death camps and destinations in France
between 1942 and 1945.

The aim is to help researchers and develop the company’s policy of transparency, it added.

SNCF president Guillaume Pépy admitted a year ago that the company had been "a cog in the Nazi extermination machine" during the occupation of France.

The company previously fought attempts to force it to accept responsibility for the deportations, including successfully appealing against the 2006 judgement in a case brought by the family of Green Euro-MP Alain Lipietz, some of whose members were deported.

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But in 2010 Pépy expressed the company’s “regret for the consequences of its acts” at a meeting in Florida after a campaign in the US to prevent it winning contracts there.

The SNCF has also defended its conduct during the war on a website in English.

The company was “subject to the laws dictated by the occupying forces” under the conditions of the armistice between Germany and the collaborationist government of Marshal Philippe Pétain, the site says, pointing out that 800 railway employees were executed by the Germans and 1,200 deported for their role in the resistance to Nazi occupation.

In 1995 then-president Jacques Chirac acknowledged that the French state under Pétain had "seconded" the Holocaust.

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