France to Turn Former Concentration Camp Into Holocaust Museum

Some 16,000 Jews were sent to be murdered in death camps from Pithiviers station and the neighboring camp of Beaune-la-Rolande

This December 9, 2013 file photo shows a train boxcar which symbolized the Drancy transit deportation camp, at the Holocaust memorial center in Drancy, France.
AFP

France’s national rail company has allocated $2.3 million toward building a Holocaust museum at one of its abandoned stations.

The museum, being built with funding from SNCF, is scheduled to open in 2020 at the former Pithiviers station in eastern France.

Separately, Amsterdam’s GVB transportation company announced this week  that it “would look into ways to come to terms” with the role of its employees in transporting thousands of Jews to be murdered during the German occupation of the Netherlands. Last month, the Dutch national rail company NS said it would offer compensation to victims.

The first concentration camp in Nazi-occupied France, Pithiviers station, predated the most infamous deportations of French Jews. CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, will partner in designing the museum, the France Info news website reported last week.

With SNCF’s logistical support, some 16,000 Jews were sent to be murdered in death camps from Pithiviers station and the neighboring camp of Beaune-la-Rolande in eight transports between 1941 and 1943.

Last year, local authorities said they would devote hundreds of thousands of euros to preserving the station, set up educational exhibitions on its walls, and declare it a historical monument.

The abandoned train station, whose old rails have not been replaced, had remained unused for decades. For years, some schools have been bringing pupils to see the station, which currently is closed to the public.