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September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
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The Reparations Lawsuit Against France’s National Railway

We have often been somewhat critical of some of the war reparations class-action lawsuits filed against Germany and other European countries. Given the relatively paltry sums realized as measured against the horrors of the Holocaust, they tend to provide unwarranted public absolution, as if money could ever compensate. Moreover, the large number of entitled claimants meant that only the lawyers involved would realize significant sums.

Yet we welcome the recent reinstatement by a federal court of a lawsuit brought against the French national railway, Societ? Nationale des Chemins de Fer. The suit charges that the railway delivered 72,000 Jews and others to Nazi concentration camps to their deaths during World War II and billed the German and French governments per person, per kilometer.

A lower court had dismissed the suit on the grounds that the railroad was immune to suit under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976.

Whatever the concerns we have with aspects of Holocaust-related lawsuits, this case is different and the coffers of the Societ? Nationale des Chemins de Fer should be suitably emptied.

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