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6 Sep 2001

SNCF lawsuits (re Holocaust, filed in France)

Status: CLOSED

Date lawsuit was filed
6 Sep 2001
Racial & ethnic groups
Location of Filing: France
Location of Incident: France
Type of Litigation: Domestic



Pour la version française de ce profil, cliquez ici.

Snapshot: During World War II, Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF), the French national railroad company, transported 76,000 civilians to Nazi death camps.  Holocaust survivors filed three different lawsuits against SNCF seeking to hold it accountable – three US lawsuits and one French lawsuit.

For proceedings in the United States, see SNCF lawsuits (re Holocaust, filed in the US)

Proceedings in France

On 6 September 2001, a similar claim was filed by three French Holocaust survivors with the Administrative Court of Toulouse, France.  The plaintiffs sought compensation and joint condemnation of SNCF and the French State for their alleged roles in plaintiffs’ internment and transfer to the Drancy internment camp in Paris.  In October 2001, the court dismissed the suit, and in November 2001 the plaintiffs appealed the judgment.  On 6 June 2006, the appeals court ruled against the defendants, ordering SNCF to pay €20,000 and the French Government to pay €40,000 in compensation.  In March 2007, SNCF appealed this ruling.  SNCF argued that it operated the trains as a private enterprise and the administrative court, which can only hear cases about governmental conduct, did not have jurisdiction to hear the case.  The plaintiffs argued that the court had jurisdiction to hear the case because SNCF was complicit in crimes committed by the state.  On 27 March 2007, the appeals court overturned the lower court’s decision.  On 28 November 2007, the plaintiffs appealed the decision before the Cassation Court which referred the case to the High Administrative Court.  On 21 December 2007, the High Administrative Court dismissed the suit, ruling that the court of first instance lacked jurisdiction to decide the case.

In November 2010, the chairman of SNCF, Guillaume Pepy, issued a public statement about SNCF’s role in World War II, acknowledging that the company’s trains were used to transport people to Nazi death camps.  In December 2014, the French Government agreed to compensate Holocaust victims for SNCF’s role in transporting victims to Nazi camps.

- “Holocaust Survivors Seek Congress’s Help in Court”, James Barron, New York Times, 3 Nov 2008.
- “French railways win WWII appeal”, BBC, 27 Mar 2007

- “Lipietz case: French state and SNCF guilty of collusion in deporting Jews”, Angelique Chrisafis, Guardian [UK], 7 June 2006

- [FR] Courrier initial au de la SNCF, région Toulouse, 6 octobre 2001

- [FR] Lipietz v. SNCF, Alain Lipietz [Tous les dossiers] 2001 – present
Lipietz v. SNCF, Anne Witt, as Revised by Vivian Grosswald Curran, June 2006 [Translation of judgment]