Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FASHION

Paris, Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015.

Read more

REPORTERS

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

2014-07-11 21:47 AFRICA NEWS

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 11 July 2014

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Politics: parties under pressure

Read more

FOCUS

In Burma, the rise of radical Buddhism

Read more

  • UN Security Council calls for Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire

    Read more

  • The third-place playoff: the World Cup game no one wants to play

    Read more

  • France’s Kadri wins eighth stage at Tour de France

    Read more

  • Legal challenge to French mayor’s ban of Muslim hijab on beach

    Read more

  • Last of the Ramones, Tommy Ramone, dies aged 62

    Read more

  • Video: Outrage in wake of deadly Casablanca buildings collapse

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces ‘executed prisoners in reprisal’ for ISIS killings

    Read more

  • Ukraine promises retaliation after rebel assault

    Read more

  • Putin revives old Cuban flame and eyes Latin American minerals

    Read more

  • Kerry holds all-night talks with Afghan presidential rivals

    Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Cleveland's NBA fans hail 'return of king' LeBron James

    Read more

  • Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

    Read more

  • Magnitude 6.8 quake, small tsunami hit east Japan

    Read more

  • Suspect in Brussels Jewish Museum shooting drops extradition appeal

    Read more

France

Eyeing US contracts, France railway 'regrets' WWII deportations

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-11-13

With an eye on lucrative contracts in the United States, France's national railway company SNCF has publicly expressed regret for its role in deporting tens of thousands of Jews to extermination camps during World War II.

AFP - France's state-owned rail company SNCF has expressed remorse for hauling thousands of Jews to their deaths in Nazi camps, after US lawmakers threatened its chances of winning lucrative contracts.
  
Until recently, the company insisted it had been forced by France's World War II German occupiers to help deport 75,000 French Jews to the gas chambers, and noted that 2,000 of its own rail workers were executed.
  
But, with SNCF and its main train-builder Alstom seeking work in the United States, the company's chairman Guillaume Pepy earlier this month met in Florida with elected representatives and Jewish community groups to express his regret.
  
Pepy told them he wished to express "his profound pain and regret for the consequences of acts ... carried out under order."
  
According to a copy of his statement issued by SNCF, Pepy quoted a speech made by French former president Jacques Chirac at a 1995 memorial.
  
"These dark hours will stain our history forever, and are an insult to our history and tradition. Yes, the criminal insanity of the occupier was seconded by the French, by the French state," Chirac said then.
  
"As an arm of the French state, SNCF adopts these words as its own and accepts the pain that they reflect for the victims, survivors and their families, who suffered because of our role in the war," Pepy added.
  
SNCF also has an English-language website, which seeks to explain its role in the Holocaust: www.sncfhighspeedrail.com/heritage.
  
In August, Pepy opened SNCF archives to American historians and said that he took concerns over the company's role "very seriously" -- but stuck to the company line that it had been "acting under the Nazi yoke."
  
The issue had been taken up by US lawmakers, however, and with big contracts like that of Florida's proposed Tampa to Orlando high-speed rail line in the balance, SNCF has now apparently decided to go a little further.
  
Had it not, it might have found itself excluded from the US market.
  
In California, where SNCF is eyeing another high-speed project, state assemblyman Bob Blumenfield passed a law requiring companies bidding on the contract to reveal their role in prisoner transport between 1942 and 1944.
  
Florida's Congressman Ron Klein, another Democrat, has proposed a similar law at the federal level. Neither text mentions SNCF by name, but both clearly target the firm seeking to export France's world class TGV technology.
  
With deals worth tens of billions of euros (dollars) at stake, former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, chairman of the French Senate's Franco-US friendship committee, has sought to defuse the row.
  
He told his US colleagues that French rail workers had no choice but to collaborate, but some listeners were unimpressed and even in France campaigners for Holocaust remembrance have criticised the firm for tardy regrets.
  
"It's an obvious step towards establishing historical truth," said Alain Lipietz, a former member of the European parliament who sued SNCF on behalf of four family members hauled to their deaths on board French trains.
  
"But what's regrettable is the fact that he did what he did in the United States solely to improve his position in a contract negotiation, and not in order to ensure that it doesn't happen again one day," he said.
  
For his part, France's senior human rights official Francois Zimeray accused protectionist politicians in the United States of exploiting the issue to exclude French products from US markets.
  
"I encourage SNCF to face up to this page in its history, and to break down any myths," he added, insisting that France had acted in an exemplary way in terms of Holocaust remembrance and reparations.

 

Date created : 2010-11-12

  • GERMANY

    Court fines Holocaust-denying British bishop €10,000

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Document 'proves' Vichy France leader was an anti-Semite

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)