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France and the United States signed agreement to compensate Holocaust survivors

Dec 10, 2014 16:31 IST

France and the United States signed a 60 million US dollars agreement on 8 December 2014 to compensate thousands of Holocaust survivors who were deported to concentration camps by France's state rail company SNCF during Nazi occupation.

Although SNCF is not a party to the agreement, the company will contribute 4 million US  dollars over the next five years to fund Holocaust memorials and museums in the US, Israel and France.

The agreement will come into effect after the approval by the French parliament.

Highlights of the agreement
• Under the agreement, the French government will pay 60 million US dollars to Holocaust survivors and their families.
• The agreement aims to pay those people who were deported from France to Nazi concentration camps through the French rail company SNCF during the country's occupation by the Germans between 1940 and 1944.
• In order to gain the benefits of the deal, the person should not have had access to any compensation or pension programmes which France has been providing since 1946.
• Spouses of the deportees who were not nationals of French, Belgian, Polish or British will also be compensated. These countries are already covered by bilateral agreements with France.
• Survivors including nationals from Israel and Canada as well as Americans may receive up to 100000 US dollars each while heirs and spouses may receive several tens of thousands.
• As part of the deal, the US Government will work to end lawsuits and compensation claims against SNCF.

Background
The accord came after Maryland lawmakers demanded that SNCF compensate Holocaust victims before being allowed to join a bidding process on a 25-kilometer (16-mile) public-private light rail project worth nearly 2.4 million Euros.

From 1942 to 1944, some 76000 Jews were transported by French railways to Nazi death camps after France's Vichy regime collaborated with the Nazis in their efforts to wipe out Europe's Jewish population. Only around 3000 survived.

These Jewish people passed through Drancy camp near Paris on their way to Nazi extermination camps during World War II.

However, France has already paid out around 49 million euros to French nationals who were victims of the Holocaust under a scheme which was set up in 1946.

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