27 Jun 2019

Holocaust: Dutch rail firm to pay millions in compensation

1:32 pm on 27 June 2019

The Netherlands' state-run rail company NS has said it will pay tens of millions of euros in compensation to Holocaust victims and their families.


The Auschwitz concentration camp where the parents of campaigner Salo Muller were murdered. Photo: AFP

The company earned millions in today's terms by transporting Jewish families to a Nazi transit camp.

Some 107,000 Jews were taken to Westerbork and deported, mainly to deaths camps at Auschwitz and Sobibor. Only 5000 survived.

NS said the deportations were a "black page in the history of the company".

It apologised in 2005 for its role in helping the Nazi occupiers in World War II, but it only set up a commission to decide how much to pay in November last year.

Former Ajax football club physiotherapist and holocaust victim Salo Muller (L), chairman of a commission that proposed reparations Job Cohen (C) and president director of the Dutch national rail company NS Roger van Boxtel (R) in Utrecht on June 26, 2019.

From left; Holocaust victim Salo Muller, John Cohen, chairperson of a reparations commission and Roger van Boxtel, president director of the Dutch national rail company NS at a media conference to announce the compensation deal in Utrecht. Photo: AFP

Its decision to "learn, honour and remember in an enduring way" followed a campaign by Salo Muller, whose parents were murdered at Auschwitz.

"It is estimated that several thousand people are eligible for the allowance, including an estimated 500 survivors. NS will set aside several tens of millions of euros for this in the coming years," NS said in a statement.

Each survivor will receive €15,000 ($NZ25,500), while €5000-7000 will go to children and widowed spouses of victims.

Dutch railway aided Nazis 'without a word of objection'

NS said in November that it had operated trains on behalf of Germany's Nazi occupiers, but it did more than just run the trains.

"The NS complied with the German order to make trains available," Dirk Mulder from the National Westerbork Memorial told Dutch TV last year. "The Germans paid for it and said the NS had to come up with a timetable. And the company went and did it without a word of objection."

NS made an estimated €2.5m in today's terms, Dutch public broadcaster NOS estimates, in transporting Jews from across the Netherlands to the Westerbork camp.

Westerbork became a transit camp in 1941 and the first deportees left on 15 July, 1942. The final train left on 13 September 1944, with 279 Jews on board.

The campaigner

Salo Muller is a former physiotherapist at top Dutch football club Ajax.

In 1941, when he was five, his parents were arrested by the Nazis and put on a train from the capital Amsterdam to Westerbork, where they spent nine weeks before being deported to Auschwitz and murdered.

He decided to act when he heard that the French government had agreed to a $US60m ($NZ89.8m) compensation fund with the US to be distributed among thousands of survivors and their relatives.


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