While Annapolis is considering two bills that would demand French rail company Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF) pay Holocaust reparations before its majority-owned subsidiary may be considered for Maryland’s light rail Purple Line contract, U.S. State Department officials are actually meeting with French officials to discuss those reparations, and they’d prefer Maryland not cramp their style right now.
The thing is, since 1948 the French government has paid more than $6 billion (by their own estimation) in Holocaust reparations including payments to those sent to death camps on SNCF trains, but only French citizens and citizens of Poland, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, or Belgium are eligible for such payments.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s special adviser on Holocaust issues Stuart Eizenstat said that the French are “negotiating in good faith” to work out reparations for U.S. citizens. And the Maryland legislation, besides jeopardizing federal funding for the Purple Line, is “not useful” and amounts to asking the French to negotiate “with a gun to their head,” Eizenstat said.
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