Tag: wwii

Rail Company with a Dubious Holocaust History Bids on Light Rail Contract



In 2011, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed a law that requires rail companies bidding on jobs in Maryland to disclose their ties to the Holocaust. At the time, Paris-based Keolis, whose majority owner Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français “historians say was paid to transport nearly 77,000 Jews and other Holocaust victims during World War II,” was bidding to operate MARC trains.

That same year, the company issued a formal apology for its role in the Holocaust, while maintaining that its trains were seized by Nazis during the occupation.

Now, Keolis is again bidding on a Maryland contract, this time to build and operate the light rail Purple Line. The Washington Post notes that the deal — valued at $6 billion — would be one of the state’s biggest contracts ever.

For some, the company’s connection to the Holocaust may seem abstract, but at least one Baltimore resident can recall actually escaping from an SNCF rail-car. Leo Bretholz, 92, finds it “reprehensible” that “this company, which put me on a deportation train bound for Auschwitz and demanded payment to do so, to now seek public contracts — paid for by my tax dollars — while steadfastly refusing to pay reparations and to do what is morally right.”

Local Writer Sujata Massey Discusses Her New Novel at The Ivy, Thursday, Sept. 12


massey sleeping dictionary

Local writer and former Sun reporter Sujata Massey, author of the award-winning Rei Shimura series, will discuss her new novel, a love story set during the political and cultural upheaval of late Raj India at The Ivy Bookshop on Thursday, September 12 at 7:00.

About the Book

The term “sleeping dictionary” was coined for young Indian women who slept with British men and educated them in the ways of India. Set between 1925 and the end of World War II, The Sleeping Dictionary is the story of Kamala, born to a peasant family in West Bengal, who makes her way to Calcutta in the 1930s. Haunted by a forbidden love, she is caught between the raging independence movement and the British colonial society she finds herself inhabiting. This portrait of late Raj India is both a saga and a passionate love story.

Tonight at The Ivy – The Front Table Series: David Gillham Discusses His New Novel


gillham city women

Join author David R. Gillham as he discusses his novel of a woman struggling through the chaos of Berlin in World War II tonight at the Ivy Bookshop at 7 p.m. The event is part of the Baltimore Fishbowl and Ivy Bookshop series, The Front Table, which features well-regarded authors and books found on the “front table” of the shop.

27 Unexploded WWII Munitions Found in Southern Maryland


Johns Hopkins tends to be known more for their work in medicine than in advanced military weaponry. Thus, it may surprise you to learn that their Applied Physics Laboratory helped develop the second most important piece of weapons technology of World War II, namely the proximity fuse, an advancement which allowed a shell to detonate without actually hitting its target.

The site where they tested the new technology was Newtowne Neck, a peninsula in Southern Maryland. In 2009, the Department of Natural Resources revamped the longtime farmland (and one-time proving ground) into a massive state park.

But wait, here’s the story: on New Year’s Day a woman walking along the shore at Newtowne Neck found an unexploded 57 mm ammunition! The park was closed down, the Army Corps of Engineers was called in, bomb experts detonated the shell on site, and 26 other pieces of unexploded ordnance were discovered!

The strangest thing is, it seems like it was public (if not “common”) knowledge that the site was used to test the proximity fuse. How many organizations had to forget or not inquire about the history of the peninsula before the park was opened?