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21 Feb 2014

Katherine Shaver, Washington Post

U.S.-France Holocaust-reparation talks renew focus on firm planning bid on Purple Line job

The French government has begun negotiating with the State Department over paying reparations to America’s Holocaust survivors who were deported to Nazi death camps in French trains — a decades-old controversy now surrounding a French company bidding on Maryland’s $2.2 billion light-rail Purple Line project…Historians say Keolis’s parent company, known as SNCF — Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français — transported 76,000 Jews and other prisoners to Nazi death camps…On Thursday, a spokesman for SNCF referred calls to the French Embassy…“The negotiations underway with the American authorities are meant to find ways to open the compensation procedures to those who were denied compensation because of nationality criteria,” [the embassy spokesperson]…wrote in an e-mail…SNCF officials have said that under French law, only the government, not the railway, can pay reparations for deportations that occurred under the Nazi-backed Vichy government...