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France agrees to compensate Holocaust deportees

Associated Press
PARIS — Hundreds of American Holocaust survivors and others who were deported by France’s state rail company SNCF during the Nazi occupation will be entitled to compensation from a $60 million U.S.-French fund announced on Friday. As part of the deal, the U.S. government will work to end lawsuits and other compensation claims in U.S. courts against the SNCF, which is bidding for lucrative high-speed rail and other contracts in U.S. markets. Some state legislators have sought to block SNCF from such contracts because of its Holocaust-era actions. The French Foreign Ministry and U.S. State Department announced an accord Friday for the compensation fund, which will be financed by the French government and managed by the United States. The French government has already paid more than $6 billion in reparations — but only to French citizens and certain deportees. The new deal will allow compensation for Americans, Israelis and some others who were not eligible for other French reparations programs. In addition to hundreds of survivors eligible for compensation, the fund will also provide money to thousands of spouses or descendants of Holocaust deportees who have since died. SNCF transported about 76,000 French Jews to Nazi concentration camps, though experts disagree on its degree of guilt. SNCF has argued that it had no effective control over operations during the Nazi occupation from 1940 to 1944. The agreement will be signed on Monday in Washington, but for the money to be authorized it still must get approval from the French Parliament, which could take months. U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, who had pushed to get the U.S. government to pressure the French government to agree to compensation, hailed it as a “breakthrough in a decades-long struggle for justice.”
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