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November 16, 2010 2:14 pm

Rail Firm Says Sorry over Holocaust Deportations

avatar by Joshua Freedman

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Guillaume Pepy, Chief Executive of the state-owned SNCF. Photo: G. Uferas.

The French national rail company has apologised for its role in the deportation of Jews to Nazi camps during the Second World War, the first time it has declared its remorse. Some 76,000 Jews were deported to German and eastern Europe in French trains and by workers employed by the French rail network, most never returning.  Guillaume Pepy, Chief Executive of the state-owned SNCF, expressed the company’s “profound sorrow and regret,” in contrast to the company’s previous official line that its employees were forced by the German occupiers to assist them. The shift in tone comes in light of attempts to win lucrative contracts in Florida and California to built high-speed rail links. Lawmakers and Jewish groups in both states had attempted to stop the deals unless SNCF acknowledged its culpability in the transfer of Jews.

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