Netherlands' National Railway Refers Holocaust Survivor Seeking Restitution to Customer Service

Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the railway company responsible for transporting approximately 100,000 Dutch Jews to their deaths, is resisting calls to pay compensation to victims

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

Responding to a restitution claim by a Holocaust survivor, the Dutch national railway company referred him to its customer service department — which told him they cannot find his paperwork.

Salo Muller, who was a boy when he was separated from his parents 75 years ago in Amsterdam before their murder in a gas chamber in Auschwitz, based his claim last year on the 2015 discovery of documents in which the Nederlandse Spoorwegen national railway company, or NS, billed German authorities for the transportation of Jews to transit camps during the Holocaust.

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 Monday, the 75th anniversary of the first shipments of Jews to the Westerbork transit camp in the northern Netherlands.

NS apologized for its role in the murder of 75 percent of the pre-war Jewish population of the Netherlands, which comprised approximately 140,000 people. It also funds various commemoration projects, including at the Westerbork memorial museum with over $1 million. But NS has resisted calls to offer compensation to victims and their descendants, as the French railway system did in 2015, paying $60 million.

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. 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.”