US distributes further $30m to survivors of France Holocaust train deportations
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US distributes further $30m to survivors of France Holocaust train deportations

State Department to administer monies as part of agreement with Paris over national rail system which transported Jews to Nazi death camps

Hungarian Jews on the Judenrampe (Jewish ramp) after disembarking from the transport trains at Auschwitz-Birkenau, May 1944. To be sent rechts! – to the right – meant the person had been chosen as a laborer; links! – to the left – meant death in the gas chambers. (From the Auschwitz Album)
Hungarian Jews on the Judenrampe (Jewish ramp) after disembarking from the transport trains at Auschwitz-Birkenau, May 1944. To be sent rechts! – to the right – meant the person had been chosen as a laborer; links! – to the left – meant death in the gas chambers. (From the Auschwitz Album)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The US State Department is ready to allot the second half of the $60 million in compensation for survivors deported to Nazi camps via the French rail system, and their spouses and descendants.

Claimants will receive virtually double the amount they were allotted after the governments of the United States and France reached agreement on the $60 million in 2014.

The agreement redressed longstanding claims by survivors who were otherwise unable to obtain reparations limited to French nationals through the French pension system. The SNCF rail system, which is owned by the French government, transported Jews to the death camps during the Holocaust.

The fund, with monies from France but administered by the US government, was available to non-French nationals who are citizens of the United States and any other country that does not have a bilateral reparations agreement with France. (Belgium, Poland, Britain, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are subject to such agreements.)

Chen and her 85-year-old grandfather Avraham, who is a Holocaust survivor, light candles next to a train wagon used in Nazi Germany to transport Jews to concentration camps, on April 23, 2017, in Netanya. (AFP/ JACK GUEZ)

Officials accelerated initial payments from half the fund to get some compensation to survivors and their spouses while they were still alive, and kept half in reserve for other potential claimants.

Now that the process has been exhausted, the remainder will be disbursed. The $204,000 that living survivors received in 2014 will be nearly doubled for an overall payment of $401,880, the plan’s administrator, Stuart Eizenstat, told the Jewish media in a conference call. The $51,000 that surviving spouses received then will similarly now reach an overall total of $100,470, and the family of survivors and spouses who had died by 2014 will also receive almost the same amount they received that year.

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