U.S. Holocaust survivors join lawsuit against French rail over transport links to Nazi death camps





Ernest Hirsch was a scared 9-year-old in a French children's home the last time he heard from his mother...

Shortly after Hirsch got that letter, his parents were forced onto a train headed for death. When they arrived at Auschwitz, "they were marched directly to the gas chambers and killed," he said.

Hirsch, 75, is one of more than 100 Americans who have joined a groundbreaking legal action here against the French railway Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer (SNCF), which transported thousands of Jews during World War II to transit hubs on their way to their deaths. It's the same state-owned train system that now carries commuters to their jobs. Some 76,000 Jews in France were transported to Nazi death camps; only 2,500 of them survived.

In a first-of-its-kind ruling last summer, 62 years after the war ended, an administrative tribunal in Toulouse, France, fined the SNCF and the French republic $80,000 for their role in transporting a Jewish family. The railway is appealing. [The Toulouse finding is the first such ruling against the French republic or one of its agencies.]

The case could be one of the last significant legal actions on behalf of Holocaust survivors, many of whom have already died of old age...


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