During World War II, France’s state-run railway transported thousands of Jews to Nazi prison camps. Today, the same railway—the Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Français, or SNCF, is the majority stockholder in a company that’s in the running to build the Purple Line light rail project in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. Some Maryland lawmakers believe the railway should be required to pay reparations to survivors of the Holocaust before being allowed to bid on this contract.
It's the subject of a bill (Senate Bill 754 / House Bill 1326) before the Maryland legislature, sponsored in the House by Delegate Kirill Reznik, Democrat of Montgomery County, and in the Senate by Joan Carter Conway, Democrat of Baltimore City.
Meanwhile, the US State Department has begun formal negotiations with the French government about possible reparations to American Holocaust survivors who were aboard those trains.
Leading negotiations from the American side is former Ambassador to the European Union and Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat. He’s the Special Adviser to the US State Department on Holocaust Issues, and the author of the book Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor, and the Unfinished Business of World War II. Sheilah Kast talks with him about how the Maryland bill could affect negotiations.