Rep. Maloney Joins Bi-Partisan Effort With Rep. Ros-Lehtinen To Persuade Maryland Transportation Dept. To Sever Ties With French Rail Company That Aided Nazis

Jan 30, 2014
Press Release

SNCF refused to pay restitution, but may get contract to build DC's planned Purple Line

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On a recent trip to Poland to observe the 69th anniversary of liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) stood by the very rail line that brought over a million men, women and children to their death. And one of the central facts of the Holocaust was inescapable. The Holocaust could never have occurred on such a vast, methodical and murderously efficient scale, had it not been for transportation infrastructure of a modern industrial state. Eichmann’s willing collaborators made sure the death trains ran on time.  Now, an affiliate of one of the same railroad companies that brought victims to the Nazi death camps could win a contract to build a new metro line in the DC area.

Congresswoman Maloney joined forces with Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) to send a letter to Maryland’s Department of Transportation requesting that the state sever all ties with a French rail firm that aided the Nazis during World War II and has never been held accountable.

Maryland’s Department of Transportation recently announced that Keolis, a company which is majority-owned by Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF), has been selected to bid on the Purple Line rail extension project.

 In World War II, SNCF collaborated with the Nazis to transfer more than 76,000 Jews and thousands of other “undesirables” to concentration camps, but has not provided any restitution to victims. 

 “SNCF refuses to hold itself accountable for its role in the Holocaust, and ignores a moral obligation to the survivors and veterans who are taxpayers of Maryland,” wrote Maloney and Ros-Lehtinen.

“While we look forward to the innovative Purple Line, we do not believe that it should be done through the partnership of Keolis as an entity of SNCF.”

Last year Maloney and Ros-Lehtinen introduced the Holocaust Rail Justice Act (H.R. 1505), which would provide Holocaust survivors their day in court against SNCF. The bill has not seen committee action as yet.

Following her visit to Auschwitz, Maloney vowed to redouble her efforts to pass the Holocaust Rail Justice Act, saying: “Any promises of ’never again' and ‘never forget’ ring somewhat hollow, if we are willing to do business with a company that aided and abetted the Nazi killing machine.   The world must not forget their collaboration with evil, even if they turn out to be the lowest bidder.”

The full text of the letter Maloney and Ros-Lehtinen sent to Maryland Secretary of Transportation James T. Smith Jr. follows:

January 27, 2014

James T. Smith Jr.
Maryland Department of Transportation
7201 Corporate Center Drive
Hanover MD 21076

Dear Secretary Smith,

We write to you regarding the recent decision by the Maryland Department of Transportation to select Keolis as a finalist in the bid for the proposed Purple Line Light Rail extension. Keolis’ majority owner is Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF) France’s national rail company that has yet to provide restitution to tens of thousands of holocaust victims for its role in willingly collaborating with the Nazis during World War II.  While we believe the proposed Purple Line is an exciting new private-public partnership venture for Maryland, Keolis, as a part of SNCF, should be reevaluated as a finalist for the 35-year contract.         

During World War II, more than 76,000 Jews and thousands of other “undesirables,” including U.S. pilots shot down over France, were transported from France toward Nazi death camps aboard trains operated by SNCF.  The rail company collaborated with the Nazis, operating the trains as a commercial venture, and was paid per head, per kilometer to deliver tens of thousands to their deaths. However, the company has yet to pay reparations to its victims.

If awarded, the State of Maryland’s contract with SNCF for the Purple Line may be paid out of the very pockets of taxpayers who the company once willingly transported to the death camps. While we look forward to the innovative Purple Line, we do not believe that it should be done through the partnership of Keolis as an entity of SNCF until its victims are awarded their long overdue justice.

We urge the Maryland Department of Transportation to take into consideration the relationship between Keolis and SNCF as it reviews finalists for the Purple Line, and to not ignore its moral obligation to the Holocaust survivors who proudly call Maryland home.


Carolyn B. Maloney, Member of Congress

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Member of Congress