Dutch Railways Working to Offer Compensation to Holocaust Victims

The national company 'operated trains in service of' Nazi regime, according to official statement, acknowledging 'black page in the history of our country and our company'

File photo: A passenger train operated by Nederlandse Spoorwegen, sits on the tracks at Amsterdam Central station in Amsterdam, Netherlands, October 29, 2013.
Bloomberg

The Netherlands’ national rail company said it would set up a commission of inquiry to see whether it should compensate Holocaust victims for its role in the Holocaust.

Dutch Railways announced its plan Tuesday in a statement that said it "during World War II operated trains in service of the occupation" by Nazi Germany and that this is "a black page in the history of our country and our company."

The commission, the statement said, will be tasked with "seeing how Dutch Railways may offer, on moral grounds, compensation for individuals." Beneficiaries may be victims or their descendants, the statement also said.

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The company, known locally by its Dutch-language acronym NS, apologized in 2005 for its role in transporting Jews to concentration camps and has invested money in commemoration projects.

The decision to set up the commission originated in talks with Salo Muller, who was a boy when he was separated from his parents 76 years ago in Amsterdam before their murder in an Auschwitz gas chamber.

In 2016, he claimed compensation from NS following the discovery the previous year of documents in which the company billed German authorities for the transportation of Jews to transit camps.

The company earned the equivalent of at least $2.7 million from these transports on a per capita payment system, the NOS public broadcaster reported last year.

Muller, a retired physiotherapist who was known nationally for treating some of the best-known soccer stars of the Netherlands in the 1970s and 1980s, contacted NS directly requesting compensation.

"My letters were answered at first by functionaries, then at the management level, but the end of the story is that I got a letter from the customer service department," he told the NOS broadcaster last year.

The letter said: "Dear Sir/Madame, thank you very much for your letter. Your letter, as far as I can see, concerns a request for the payment of damages, among other issues. Unfortunately, I cannot find the correspondence to which you refer in our administration."

But on Tuesday, NS said in its statement it will set up the commission based on Muller’s claim because, "protracted legal procedures will benefit no one."