Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 October 2019

Dutch rail company to pay millions in compensation to Holocaust victims

Company earned millions taking Jewish families to a Nazi transit camp

Holocaust victim Salo Muller (L), chairman Job Cohen (C) and president director of NS Roger van Boxtel (R) during a presentation, in Utrecht, Netherlands. The Committee presented advice of the Individual Allowance Victims WWII Transporten NS, on how the Dutch Railways could pay compensation to people who were put on transport during WWII. EPA  
Holocaust victim Salo Muller (L), chairman Job Cohen (C) and president director of NS Roger van Boxtel (R) during a presentation, in Utrecht, Netherlands. The Committee presented advice of the Individual Allowance Victims WWII Transporten NS, on how the Dutch Railways could pay compensation to people who were put on transport during WWII. EPA  

The Dutch state-run rail company NS will pay millions in compensation to Holocaust victims and their families.

NS said its role in taking Jews and other minorities to camps on the orders of Nazi occupiers during the Second World War was a "black page in the history of the company".

More than 107,000 Jews were taken to Westerbork and deported, many to deaths camps at Auschwitz and Sobibor.

It is believed that only 5,000 people survived.

The company said on Wednesday that it would pay reparations to Jews, Roma and Sinti people.

Job Cohen, a respected former mayor of Amsterdam who led a commission that proposed the reparations, called the payments a moral gesture.

"It is not possible to name a reasonable and fitting amount of money that can compensate even a bit of the suffering of those involved," Mr Cohen said.

NS chief executive Roger van Boxtel said the decision would affect thousands of Holocaust survivors and direct relatives of victims, costing the company tens of millions of euros.

About 70 per cent of the Dutch Jewish community, or more than 100,000 Jews, did not survive the war.

Most were rounded up in cities and taken by train to camps in the Netherlands before being sent to the border and put on German trains to concentration camps.

The train company apologised in 2005 for its role. It set up Mr Cohen's commission last year to investigate how to best pay reparations.

NS said an estimated 500 living survivors of the Holocaust who were transported by the company would receive €15,000 (Dh62,630) each.

Widows are eligible to receive €7,500 and, if they were no longer alive, the surviving children of victims should receive €5,000.

French railway company SNCF has also expressed regret for its role in taking Jews to Nazi centres during the Second World War.

It acknowledged that its equipment and staff were used to take 76,000 Jews to Germany.

SNCF has argued that it had no effective control over operations when France was under Nazi occupation from 1940 to 1944.

The French government has paid more than €5.3bn in reparations to its citizens.

The German government has paid about €70bn in compensation for Nazi crimes, mainly to Jewish survivors.

Updated: June 27, 2019 01:06 AM

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