15 November 2010
Guillaume Pepy, the CEO of the state-owned French railway company SNCF, has issued statement apologizing for SNCF’s collaboration in sending some 76,000 French Jews to the Nazi death camps during World War II. Pepy said that SNCF wanted “to convey its profound sorrow and regret” for being part of the Nazi plan to exterminate Jews. “SNCF was part of this plan – it carried the trains of deportees to the French border with Germany,” a statement said.
However, the mea culpa was only published on SNCF’s English-language website and posted as part of an attempt to win a US$ 2.6 billion tender for a high-speed rail project in Florida and a US$ 45 billion project in California. The French railway firm has met opposition from lawmakers and members of the Jewish community in both states, some of whom want the company to clarify its role during World War II before any award is considered.
The Holocaust Documentation and Education Center in Florida said it did not accept the SNCF apology. "If they want to issue an apology, they should issue an apology directly to the survivors. Who are they issuing the apology to?" Rositta Kenigsberg, executive vice president of the Holocaust organization, was quoted by AFP as saying. "They are spending so much money coming here, paying a PR campaign, they are talking with everybody except the people directly involved. I don't understand,” she said.
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