Commuter rail's new operator in Holocaust scandal

The Washington Post and NPR are both reporting this morning on controversy around French company SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français), parent company of Keolis, which recently won its bid to operate the MBTA's commuter rail system.

Keolis is now part of a consortium bidding to design, build, and operate a new light-rail line in Maryland.

During World War II SNCF operated trains used to carry people to Nazi death camps. An Austrian-born Holocaust survivor now living in Baltimore, Leo Bretholz, has launched a petition at for SNCF to pay reparations to American Holocaust survivors who were carried on the company's trains. The Post reports that SNCF has begun talks with the US State Department on reparations:

Stuart Eizenstat, a Washington lawyer serving as special adviser to Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Holocaust issues, confirmed Thursday that he and several State Department officials met with French officials Feb. 6 in Paris, an extension of informal discussions over the past year.

“To the great credit of the French, they came to us and said they’d recognized there were ‘holes in the blanket’ of their [Holocaust reparations] program that didn’t cover Americans” who were deported on French trains during World War II, he said.

A Baltimore state senator, recently introduced a bill to block Keolis from participating in the light-rail project unless SNCF pays reparations.



    Free tagging: 


    It is in the past, but is not forgotten, nevertheless,

    We spent a lot of money and blood helping defeat those Nazi bastards. We are 70 years on. Nearly everyone involved with SNCF at that time is dead or near dead.

    Should we ban Audi, VW, Mercedes, and Porsche from running on out streets because of their Nazi connections? Siemens has been involved in locomotive propulsion and the electrification of the Acela line.

    Forerunners of Bank of America helped finance slave purchases. Brown was founded with slave profits. Go close your account and/or turn in your degree, if you are so concerned.

    My parents gave money to Noraid.

    Everyone has blood on out hands, sorry. Can we get on with things now and get MBCR out?


    calling this a "scandal" ignores history

    You are correct. There wasn't even a Keolis subsidiary to SNCF back then.

    Plus, this is blaming the victims, because SNCF is still owned by the French government, and France was invaded by Germany. Many French soldiers died defending France in 1940 and in 1944-45 when the Free French fought with the Allies.

    SNCF was a state company, when the Germans invaded France, the Germans thus "stole" SNCF and controlled it. The German government has paid reparations to all Holocaust survivors.

    Not to mention the lack of culpability of the private shareholders of Keolis.

    Just to add - you didn't mention the bloody wars of conquest, including Captain Amherst's genocidal biological warfare, that made the Hub, not to mention Amherst, Massachusetts, what it is today.

    On a related subject, anyone see The Train? Good 1964 John Frankenheimer movie with Burt Lancaster playing an SNCF engineer during WW2.


    The Train

    It was the PBS Saturday night movie about a year ago. Great film with lot's of old train footage. They blew up an actual French rail yard for the movie.

    The yard in question was scheduled

    to be demolished anyway (most of the tracks were the wrong gauge) and Frankenheimer convinced SNCF to let him film it for the movie. The demolition footage was interspread with staged model scenes to create the final scene in the movie.

    The other notable thing that Frankenheimer insisted upon was the use of full size trains (instead of models) for the three-train wreck scene later in the movie (after they sent the train in a big loop while fooling the Nazis into believing it had gone to Germany).



    Deselby: The German government has certainly NOT paid reparations to ALL Holocaust survivors. In fact, there are many survivors who have NOT received reparations because sometimes the hoops the survivors have to go through (and there are many) are nearly impossible. And for those who DO receive reparations, the amount is surprisingly small.

    Let's be a bit careful about making broad generalizations like that.

    And while we're at comparing genocides, the Holocaust was the most advanced one out there to date. Of course they are all horrific, but none of them has reached the sophisticated "machine for killing" that was the Holocaust, compete with record-keeping, plans to exterminate entire populations, death camps disguised as work camps. Essentially, the concentration camps were death factories. Let's not make little of that.

    Personally, I will never buy a German car, coffee machine, etc., unless I have vetted them to make sure they were not involved in the Nazi death machine. And even then I'm not sure I would buy a German product. I feel that this honors my great-grandfather, who was shot and killed, along with his youngest daughter, in front of his entire family when they started rounding up Jews.

    Hope you also don't buy from

    General Electric, General Motors, Ford, Kodak, Hugo Boss, the ex-Standard Oil companies, IBM, Bayer, Chase Bank, Nestle, the list goes on and on. Then of course there was operation paperclip that is basically the entire reason we have a rocketry program. Like using your cell phone, GPS, or most modern communication technology? Nazis. Anything to do with nuclear tech? Nazis. Hope you didn't vote either Bush for president either!

    You know what, my great-grandfather was shot in front of his family too, for having the audacity to be blind and old. But it was by the pissed off Russians going scorched earth on what was my families farm, even though they had no dog in the fight and barely even knew what was going on. Despite that, I still buy vodka. Because almost every corporation that still exists from that era had Nazi ties.

    just because something was evil

    does not make everyone accused of it, guilty of it. You offer no support for your assertion about German reparations, this article says payments are being made

    I still don't get how the current French Fifth Republic government, representing the French people, is liable for German actions, when tens of thousands of French soldiers were killed fighting Germany in that war. Particularly a partially-private subsidiary company that did not even exist in 1945. I think you are a dupe of an "astroturf" campaign likely supported behind the curtain by the railway operation competitors of Keolis.

    As for your boycott of German products, we have learned that all kinds of humans can do bad things, the Germans have collectively atoned for their actions 70 years ago and have one of the more decent and moral states in the world now, while the USA is sinking into the moral degradation of approving things like torture and warmongering all over the place. But have at it and pass up those excellent German cars built by Turkish guestworkers.

    Quick Question

    Are there any US railroads who were not involved in genocidal attempts by the US Government and state/territorial governments to wipe out Native Americans?

    If we are going to go this route, we have to be fair about it.


    Stonehill College!

    Thanks for bringing this up. My alma mater (sigh) lies on land and centered around a house developed by the Ames family. The Ames' made their money on the railroads and all the shovels used to dig the lines through Native American territory.

    The Ames family heavily supported HH Richardson and his works. So you can get all Trails of Tearsy guilt every time you walk past Trinity Church, the old Easton railroad station, Ames Hall in Easton, the bridge over the Fens, and many other Boston area buildings.

    Then again, if the MBTA ever had to move Native Americans they would have got stuck somewhere around Kendall and instead of Google we would have already had a pretty bitching casino at the corner of Ames and Main.


    don't bother taking your

    don't bother taking your bayer aspirin either, they helped manufacture the killing gases!
    honestly, i think reparations are really taking away from the point and i'm not entirely sure why reparations are relevant now. we're all broke and desperate these days, but nothing screams "desperate" like harking back to times past people's average life spans. there's no sense in dwelling when we really just need trains that run on time instead of those assholes that are running the MBCR now.


    Please. Just because it's a

    Please. Just because it's a new operator doesn't mean that trains are magically going to be on time. We still have the MBTA's shitty equipment running on old tracks arriving at old stations with the same unionized conductors, engineers, and mechanics. All that really changes is the top dogs and the logo. Maybe in the next century we'll have monorails and hovercrafts.

    Sean Hannity

    has to get to the bottom of Obama's involvement with this. There must be a link between Obama, the Nazi's and their master plan to take over American rail transportation through muslim indoctrination of rail commuters.

    Hannity? Really?

    Were you this outraged about Occupy Boston acting like Dewey Square was Max Yasgur's Farm? If you want to find something else to bitch about re MBCR, check out their genius mass transit system in a place that didn't really need one, San Juan Puerto Rico. Or the fact that the MBTA's outsourced real estate department, Transit Realty, is now running part of the analogous system in Chicago. (Hey, what could possibly go wrong?)

    clearly youve never been to

    clearly youve never been to san juan pr. they desperately need a transit system. the traffic is as bad as ive seen anywhere but the rosello government botched their rapid transit. they overspent and were forced to truncate the line i a brownfield far from the dense populations of old san juan and santurce