The Dutch National railway operator, which transported more than 100,000 Jews to Nazi death camps during the Holocaust, has announced it will compensate survivors by up to € 15,000. The survivors will be able to file for compensation starting August 5, 2019.
The Dutch company, Nederlandse Spoorwegen, had earned 2.5 million Euros (in today’s value) from transporting Jewish families to the Westerbork Nazi transit camp. The Jews were deported from there to deaths camps, mainly Auschwitz and Sobibor.
The compensation is a result of a long battle led by Salo Muller, whose parents were transported from Amsterdam to Westerbork. From there they were taken to Auschwitz and murdered in the gas chambers.
Muller, who wrote a book about his experience during the Holocaust, demanded that the company compensate the survivors. His request was denied until he threatened to sue together with Liesbeth Zegveld, a prominent Dutch human rights lawyer.
The World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) said in a statement that “the Dutch National Railway (NS) compensation program is a significant acknowledgment of the role the NS played during WWII in the suffering endured by Dutch Jews transported on NS trains.”
The compensation will be given not only to the survivors but also to their next of kin. € 7,500 will be given to widows or widowers and €5,000 or €7,500 to the victims’ children. The compensation scheme is expected to cost the company between €40m and €50m.
Over 75% of Dutch Jews, an estimated 102,000, were exterminated in the Holocaust. Only 5,000 of those sent to the death camps survived. Today, the estimated number of survivors who are still alive is about 500.