May 19, 2011
Maryland enacts Holocaust train bill
Maryland enacted a law requiring the French national railroad to publish its Holocaust-era records if its U.S. subsidiary is to receive a state contract.
Under the law Gov. Martin O’Malley signed Thursday, the French rail company SNCF must catalog and put online records relating to its transportation of 76,000 Jews and other prisoners from the suburbs of Paris to the German border from 1942 to 1944.
SNCF owns Keolis America, which is bidding to run two lines of the Maryland Area Regional Commuter train service. The company says it can complete the required work in less than six months, according to reports.
“Citizens around the world will finally be able to know the full extent of SNCF’s cooperation and participation in the Holocaust,” said a statement issued on behalf of SNCF survivors and their families, who have lobbied for similar laws in other states and nationally.
The company was paid per head per kilometer to deport the Nazi victims, according to reports. Critics say that since the war, the company has refused to apologize for its actions.
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.”
Maryland is the first state to enact such a law.
Separately, bills introduced in March in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the 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.