Dutch railway opens compensation scheme for Holocaust victims

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Dutch railway opens compensation scheme for Holocaust victims

State firm which ran transports to Nazi camps including Westerbork, Vught and Amersfoort, opens applications to repayment scheme for those who suffered

A monument at former Nazi transition-camp Westerbork, located in the Netherlands, showing mangled train tracks which brought inmates to the camp
A monument at former Nazi transition-camp Westerbork, located in the Netherlands, showing mangled train tracks which brought inmates to the camp

Applications have opened for compensation claims from the Dutch state-run rail operator for its involvement in the Holocaust.

During the Second World War, the Dutch Railways (Nederlandse Spoorwegen, or NS as it is commonly known as), operated trains on behalf of the occupying forces.

NS provided Nazi high command with both trains and a timetable for transporting Jews to and from transit camp in the Netherlands, including Westerbork, Vught and Amersfoort. From here they were put on trains to concentration and extermination camps across Europe.

The company said it had “paid a great deal of attention to collectively commemorating, honouring and learning from the suffering inflicted on so many during this period” but has never offered financial compensation until now.

In November, NS chief executive Roger van Boxtel set up a committee to look at how individual compensation could be provided for survivors and next of kin of those who were transported by NS, to be taken to concentration or extermination camps.

He did so after speaking to Holocaust survivor Salo Muller, whose parents both died in the camps, and on Monday NS opened its compensation application period, which will now be open for one year, saying: “This is a dark chapter in our history.”

NS asked an advisory committee earlier this year to suggest “the amount of individual compensation,” but in its report, the committee said: “How can a sum of money be used to respond to the suffering inflicted? What would an ‘appropriate’ sum even look like?”

The Committee said “no reasonable or appropriate amount of money can compensate in any way for the suffering,” adding: “There can be no true ‘compensation’. The Scheme concerns ‘reparations’, which must be seen as a moral gesture by which NS wishes to express the recognition of its share in the individual suffering inflicted by the occupying forces.”

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