Holocaust Survivor Files Lawsuit Against Hungarian National Railway for Crimes Against Humanity and Abetting Genocide
A group of lawyers representing a Hungarian Holocaust victim have sued Hungary’s national railways in the Hungarian Court “for transporting and profiteering from the Hungarian Holocaust,” The Algemeiner learned on Tuesday.
The lawsuit, which was filed by 91-year-old Hungarian Holocaust survivor Iren Gitta Kellner, today a US citizen, and signed by more than 150 other Hungarian Holocaust survivors mainly in the US and Israel, accuses the MAV of crimes against humanity, aiding and abetting genocide, wrongful, illegal, unlawful and inhumane actions, false imprisonment and prolonged arbitrary detention, torture and stealing personal property.
Kellner is demanding monetary compensation for personal injuries and intentional infliction of emotional and psychological distress, as well as stolen property. It also calls on MAV to accept responsibility for abetting the Nazi genocide of Hungarian Jewry, and to issue a formal apology. The lawsuit was organized by attorneys in Chicago, New York and Hungary.
The Hungarian national railway was instrumental in deporting hundreds of thousands of Jews and other victims to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
The Hungarian lawsuit came after US appeals and district courts in Illinois issued a decision on the same case that the legal team must first take its case to the Hungarian judicial system before it could proceed any further in the US, New York attorney Kenneth F. McCallion told The Algemeiner. This means it is up to the Hungarian legal system to decide first whether it will consider the case before the US courts get involved.
Documentation of the court receipt shows the lawsuit was processed on Tuesday. McCallion admitted that it could take months before the Hungarian Court decides whether to hear the case or dismiss it.
“What we’re hoping,” McCallion said, “is that this might trigger MAV and the Hungarian government to set up some discussions towards a comprehensive compensation for survivors of the Hungarian Holocaust, who were transported by MAV.”
The affidavit filed with the case recounted MAV workers deceived Kellner and her family into boarding the train by saying they would be brought to a “safe place,” and that they were being transported “free of charge” for their own protection. “In all, there were approximately 300 people from our extended family, as well as friends and neighbors, who were lured onto the train by MAV employees,” the affidavit said.
After one stopover, the passengers were forced onto a second train that ultimately transported them to Auschwitz.
“The conditions in the crowded cattle car for the three days during which we were transported to Auschwitz were horrendous and unbearable,” it continued. “There was no water or bathroom facilities available on the train. We were allowed off the train only once, and only for a few moments, during which time our luggage and valuables were forcibly removed from us by MAV workers, who assured us that they were ‘protecting’ our luggage,” which included clothing, currency, jewelry and valuables, as well as Judaica like silver cups and candlesticks and a Torah scroll.
The family never received their luggage again, and MAV workers even stripped individuals of the gold buttons sewn onto their clothing, according to the affidavit. Kellner estimated the value of the luggage to be $80,000.
“I never fully recovered from the nightmare I experienced during the three days I spent on the train to Auschwitz. I still wake up shaking and screaming every night from the memory of what happened to me and my family members while in the custody of the MAV while we were being transported. I cannot get those images out of my mind, and I can never forget,” the affidavit read.