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Some 1,200 families and groups have asked the French state rail network for compensation for its role in helping transport people to Nazi death camps during World War II, the railway said Friday.
The rail network, SNCF, contests the claims, saying it was under orders of French authorities at the time and exercised no autonomy under the Occupation government.
An SNCF official said the company had received about 1,200 letters since June, some by individual families and others by lawyers representing several people seeking compensation.
The families were basing their demands on a successful court challenge by European Parliament member Alain Lipietz and his family. A court in Toulouse in southern France ordered the government and the SNCF to pay â‚¬62,000 in damages in June for their role in transporting four of their relatives to a Nazi transit camp.
SNCF is appealing that ruling, which was the first of its kind.
The four were taken in cattle cars from Toulouse to a camp in Drancy near Paris in 1944 and remained there for several months before the camp was freed, according to the lawsuit. Drancy was a stopover point for Jews deported to Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz.
Lipietz confirmed Friday that seven other families are seeking legal proceedings in France.
Lawyer Avi Bitton said in August that some 200 French, Israeli, American, Belgian and Canadian families planned to send letters to SNCF demanding compensation, and if the railway refused, they would sue.
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