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Is Campaign on French Rail Firm Blamed in Holocaust ‘Self-Defeating’?

Efforts by state legislatures to force a French rail company to pay reparations to Holocaust survivors deported by train to Nazi death camps are hurting their chances of ever receiving money, said Stuart Eizenstat.

Eizenstat, a special assistant to Secretary of State John Kerry on Holocaust issues, has been in talks with the French government to obtain reparations for the survivors.

The Maryland, New York, Florida and California legislatures are considering laws that would bar the French company, Societe Nationale de Fer Francais, or SNCF, from obtaining state contracts for rail work until it pays reparations to the Holocaust survivors it transported who are now living in the United States.

However, it is the French government’s position that it, and not SNCF, has the authority to pay reparations. Therefore, any loss of work to SNCF while the French government is negotiating in good faith would “pose a serious obstacle” and is “self-defeating,” Eizenstat said in an interview with the Washington Jewish Week.

A third meeting between France and the United States is expected to be held this month, Eisenstat said. The French government has set a goal of completing the negotiations by the end of the summer, he said.

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