This story comes to us from the Boston Globe and appears to be a bit outside of ratpag’s pay grade (in case yesterday’s Rat Eats Bagel story hadn’t convinced you). It’s still an interesting story, and it involves transit, so we’ll hit the key points.
Keolis America has been awarded a $2.68 billion contract by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, “the largest operating contract in state history”, to run commuter rail. OK, fine. “The company’s majority shareholder is the Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français”, or SNCF. Fair enough. This is where the story takes a turn, as the SNCF is
the French national railway that historians say transported more than 76,000 Jewish people from France to their deaths in concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau, during the Nazi occupation.
Lawmakers in Maryland are actually considering a bill to bar Keolis from winning a light rail contract near D.C. if the issue of Holocaust survivors living in the U.S. receiving reparations is not resolved. Some in Massachusetts wish this sort of legislation had been enacted in their state before the large contract had been awarded.
It gets a bit tricky, though, as “the railway company says the Nazi-backed Vichy government in France forced the railway to transport Jews and other prisoners to the death camps.” In addition, “a French law passed just after World War II mandates that the government pay all reparations for actions by French companies, state-owned or private, that were linked to Holocaust atrocities” as “the state failed to protect its citizens from the Nazis and therefore is responsible for the actions that took place by those conscripted by the Vichy government.” The French government has paid out a great deal to survivors but those living in the U.S. have not been eligible.
The Keolis America spokeswoman says “Keolis has no World War II history” while, on the other side, an opponent suggests that “it is the goal of this company’s inheritors to shut their minds and shut their hearts and shut their responsibility.” We’ll leave it with “Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston” who says that “it’s not a simple good-versus-bad” issue. It certainly doesn’t seem to be.
ratpag apologizes for excessively quoting, as if this were a high school history paper, but we have no legs to stand on to opine about such a thing as this. It seemed best to just relay the news. Tune in later for more rail-convenient dispensary locations and rat pics.