A state-owned French railway company is trying to clear its tarnished reputation, marked for delivering thousands of Jews into the hands of the Nazis. Guillaume Pepy, president of the SNCF national railway, officially ceded a former industrial train station and patch of muddy rail lines to the northern Paris suburb of Bobigny, so the area can be made into a memorial for the 22,407 Jews who were deported to Nazi concentration camps from there. The gesture is one of many similar efforts recently by the company -- and at least one government diplomat -- since it has been under increased scrutiny following a bid last year for two multibillion-dollar contracts to build high-speed trains in Florida and California.
Alain Lipietz, a French deputy in the European Parliament whose father and uncle were rounded up and sent to a holding area during the war, won a cash indemnity worth about $77,000 from the SNCF -- the railway is appealing the case. More than 1,000 people, both Jews and non-Jews, have filed similar claims since the Lipietz case in Toulouse last summer.