In just two years from 1942 to 1944, at least 76,000 French Jews were deported to Nazi concentration camps by SNCF, France’s national railway corporation under the Vichy Republic. Of them, 74,000 were killed.
Tomorrow, May 31, is the last day for survivors of that atrocity and their families to claim compensation from the SNCF.
In 2014, after numerous lawsuits and a failed PR campaign that attempted to portray wartime railroad employees resisting orders to deport Jews, the SNCF created a $60 million reimbursement fund for French Holocaust survivors and their families.
Most now live in the US and Israel (link in French), and the compensation program is managed by the US State Department. Claims may be filed online, via regular mail or fax. For relatives unsure whether they are entitled to compensation, a full archive of Jewish citizens who were victims of the Holocaust in France is available on the digital archive Mémorial de la Shoah.
How much compensation will be ultimately offered to each individual depends on the number of claims received. Survivors will likely receive about $100,000 each, while families of victims may receive sums of several thousand dollars.
Following negotiations mostly led by the United States, surviving victims of Nazi persecution in France can still apply for several other benefits, including pensions and compensation from the French government. Through these funds, France has paid roughly $6 billion in Holocaust reparations.