Jewish Journal


October 4, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court will not review French railway case


Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. USDA photo by Ken Hammond

Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. USDA photo by Ken Hammond

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the descendants of Jews deported during World War II who want to sue a French railway in American courts.

The high court’s refusal Monday means an appeals court ruling throwing out the descendants’ lawsuit demanding France’s state railway network SNCF compensate the families of the deportees will stand. Lower courts have said that the case is not within their jurisdiction.

Bills introduced in March in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate, and by a bipartisan slate of top lawmakers, would make SNCF and other railroads that transported Jews during the Holocaust subject to lawsuits in federal courts, however.

SNCF transported 76,000 Jews and other prisoners from the suburbs of Paris to the German border from 1942 to 1944. The company was paid per head per kilometer to deport the Nazi victims, according to reports.

The company has defended itself by saying its employees were under the control of the occupying Nazi forces. SNCF has posted material on its website claiming that “many railway workers took part in the French resistance.”

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