France plans to pay millions to Holocaust survivors

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The government of France is planning to compensate survivors of the Nazi concentration camps nearly 70 years after they were sent there during World War II, according to CNN.

Reparation programs created after the war, and those instituted over the last 15 years, are known as the “tangible symbol of the official acknowledgment in 1995 of France’s ‘imprescriptible debt’ towards the victims of the Holocaust,” Patrizianna Sparacino-Thiellay, the French ambassador who works on human rights cases from the Holocaust, said to CNN reporters.

France has signed an agreement with U.S. authorities in order to pay $60 million to the Holocaust survivors, Arnaud Guillois, a spokesman for the French Embassy in Washington, told CNN.

A recent Suffolk graduate who is originally from France believes this kind of compensation is not necessary, however.

Sylvain Gaulier, a former Suffolk Journal staff member who moved back to his hometown of Lille, this month said, “I believe the French Rail Company SNCF should not compensate holocaust survivors since it was forced to send Jews to concentration camps under the Nazi occupation.

“The money sent out through the compensation fund won’t repair much of the psychological trauma and pain caused by the Nazi,” Gaulier added. “However, more actions need to be taken to sensibilize people about the past atrocities and condemn everyday racist behaviors against Jews.”

This fund has been years in the making, with intense pressure from inside the United States. Many include American lawmakers, the French National Railway, and all of the bidding from U.S. markets, awaiting for the issue to be resolved, according to reports by the Associated Press.

“In this year marked by the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy and Provence, this agreement further strengthens the historic friendship and ties between our two countries,” a joint statement from the U.S. State Department and France’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said to BBC.

Gregory Fried, the philosophy department chairman who has worked on books pertaining to the Holocaust believes that the French government had a special responsibility to the victims.

“The French government collaborated with its German occupiers during World War Two in sending many of its own Jewish citizens to their deaths in the Holocaust,” Fried said. “Other nations under Nazi occupation, such as Denmark, we able to resist the assault on their Jewish populations, and so I do think France has a special responsibility to pay restitution. That obligation is not lessened by the passage of time; if anything, the late date makes it all the more urgent that justice be done while some of the survivors are still living.”

The French National Railway did not comment to several media outlets. The French embassy has commented that the trains were not responsible for the deportation of jews in France.

The deal also aids the French rail firm SNCF. Maryland lawmakers have demanded that the firm give compensation to the survivors before they go through the process of bidding on a 16- mile rail that’s worth $3 billion. Because of this deal, it opens the way for SNCF to bid on major contracts in the state of Maryland, according to the French paper The Local.

The State Department has created the fund and said to BBC that they will be administering it. The embassy spokesman also said that not only Americans are eligible for compensation, but also many living in other nations who haven’t even signed Holocaust compensation agreements.

During the occupation, the Nazis used French freight cars to deport almost 76,000 Jews to concentration camps, and according to The Local. Only 3,000 of the people survived, according to the paper.

The rail firm told The Local that it didn’t have a choice, that they were “a cog in the Nazi extermination machine,” that it would be the responsibility of the French Government to pay.

The Local said that survivors will receive up to $100,000 each, while spouses and heirs will receive tens of thousands.

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