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Thread: Holocaust Victims Seek "Compensation" from German Railways

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    Tired Holocaust Victims Seek "Compensation" from German Railways

    David Charter, Europe Correspondent

    The last remaining Polish victims of the transport trains that took millions to Nazi death camps have mounted a claim for compensation after learning that Germany’s state rail company is planning to run again on Polish rails.

    Some 7,000 survivors, all pensioners, are calling for Deutsche Bahn to help to pay their medicine and care bills from the profits of the company’s expansion, which was made possible by the deregulation of rail competition across Europe from January 1.

    Deutsche Bahn, which is owned by the German Government, is the successor to the wartime Reichsbahn, which charged its coerced passengers for their journeys to concentration camps — including Auschwitz.

    The claim is a last effort by the dwindling number of Holocaust survivors to win payments from Germany after the Polish Government formally closed the issue of seeking compensation from Berlin in 2004.

    “Deutsche Bahn wants to profit in our country,” said Stanislaw Zalewski, 85, head of the Polish Association of Former Political Prisoners of Hitler’s Prisons and Concentration Camps.

    “We want them to hand over a sum for humanitarian aid for former prisoners and forced labourers,” the former inmate of Auschwitz added.

    The call for compensation is being supported by Train of Commemoration, a German organisation dedicated to preserving the memory of the three million victims of Nazi deportations.

    It estimates that Deutsche Reichsbahn made at least €445 million (£396 million) at today’s value by charging transportees from all over Europe. It said that its research showed that the price was raised for a trip to death camps such Auschwitz: “Deutsche Reichsbahn was a state-owned logistical system of the Nazi regime so every deportation was carried out by them. This is Deutsche Bahn’s heritage and its obligation.”

    Deutsche Bahn’s website does not shy away from its predecessor company’s grim history. It states: “Deutsche Reichsbahn was involved directly in the Holocaust because it handled the deportation of numerous people. Without the railway, the systematic murder of the European Jews, Sinti and Roma would not have been possible. Some three million people from almost the whole of Europe were transported to the Nazi extermination camps.”It has so far refused to answer calls for compensation for the deportees, although it said it had supported a foundation set up by German industry to help forced labour victims.

    A spokesman said: “Deutsche Bahn AG is not the legal successor of the Deutsche Reichsbahn. Nevertheless, Deutsche Bahn AG is fully aware of its historical responsibility. For that reason, it supports various projects within the ‘Remembrance, Responsibility and Future’ foundation and is also involved in other projects”.

    Margot Kleinberger was deported in 1942, at 11, to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. “Without the railway it would not have been possible,” she said. Herbert Shenkman, who was deported as a teenager, added: “This is not just about material compensation, but also the assumption of moral responsibility.”

    It never ceases, does it.

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    Why do they want compensation from the rail road? It is not like they paid for their tickets themselves.

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