A Dutch Holocaust survivor has filed a legal claim with Germany demanding compensation including 16 million euros (approximately $18,845,000) for fees that Jews were forced to pay for their transport to Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
Salo Muller, 84, whose parents were murdered at the Auschwitz concentration camp, has written to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and filed a legal claim against Germany and the national railway Deutsche Bahn, Britain’s Times newspaper reported on Friday.
Deutsche Reichsbahn, the wartime railway authority, transported many Jewish people to the camps, including 102,000 Dutch Jews. The fares were then often refunded to the railway company through property confiscated from Jewish victims.
Deutsche Bahn, the transport company’s successor which was created in 1994 after German reunification, told The Times that it denies legal responsibility for the issue, but added that it had donated a “considerable double-digit-million sum” to Germany’s Holocaust foundation.
“We will never forget the crimes committed by Germans during the Second World War. They still fill us today with great dismay and shame,” a spokesperson for Merkel told the newspaper.
According to The Times, Muller told Dutch broadcaster NOS that the transportation company knew what it was doing when it took people to the camps, and therefore must pay.
“I blame the railway company for knowingly transporting Jews to the concentration camps and for killing those Jews there in a terrible way,” Muller said. “I want recognition from them and recognition always comes with compensation.”
Last year Muller, a former Ajax football club physiotherapist, led families in a campaign which resulted in the Dutch national rail company saying it would pay tens of millions of euros in compensation for Jews transported to Nazi death camps during WWII.
The payment by Nederlandse Spoorwegen for what it called a “black page in the history of the company” was for survivors who were taken to camps, plus relatives of those who died.
The company earned millions of dollars in today’s terms after being commissioned by the Nazi forces to transport Jewish families to extermination camps.
NS trains took Jews, Roma and Sinti minorities to transit stations including Westerbork, Vught or Amersfoort before they were sent from there to death camps in other countries.
Those transported to Westerbork included teenage diarist Anne Frank, who passed through in August 1944 after she and other members of her group were betrayed and arrested by the Gestapo.
Some 107,000 of the Netherlands’ 140,000-strong Jewish population were eventually interned in Westerbork before being sent to death camps like Auschwitz, Sobibor and Bergen-Belsen in the east.
Agencies contributed to this report.