Blumenfield Statement on French Railroad Holocaust Reparations

LOS ANGELES, CA – Councilmember Bob Blumenfield made the following statement regarding the agreement signed today creating a $60 million fund to distribute reparations to thousands of Holocaust survivors and their families who were deported by France's state rail company SNCF during the Nazi occupation.

In 2010, Blumenfield passed AB 619, the Holocaust Survivor Responsibility Act, legislation that would require companies seeking contracts to build California’s High Speed Rail system to disclose their involvement in deportations to Nazi concentration camps.

SNCF, paid per head and kilometer, transported about 76,000 French Jews to concentration camps, but had long failed to take full accountability for its actions.

“Although it took far too many years to achieve this resolution, I am gratified by the admission of accountability by SNCF for its role in the horrific crimes of the Holocaust—it is only by coming to terms with the past that we can ensure a better future.

My efforts in California to bring SNCF to account for its crimes were replicated in states across the country where the railway was seeking lucrative contracts from the taxpayers while simultaneously fighting tooth and nail against efforts to achieve financial restitution. I believe these efforts helped get us to today’s settlement.

While in many ways too little and much too late, this action is an important victory; first for the holocaust survivors and their families; second for those of us who have been doggedly pursuing justice on their behalf; third and most importantly, for the memory of those who perished.”

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