NS company spokesman Erik Kroeze said Wednesday that the commission will look at making payments to Dutch Holocaust survivors and direct family members of Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Dutch rail company to pay reparations for WWII deportations

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch national railway company is setting up a commission to investigate how it can pay individual reparations for its role in mass deportations of Jews by Nazi occupiers during World War II.

In a written statement, the rail company, NS, said that its involvement in the deportations “is a black page in the history of our country and our company.”

Company spokesman Erik Kroeze said Wednesday that the commission will look at making payments to Dutch Holocaust survivors and direct family members of Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis. He said it is not yet clear how many people could be eligible.

Kroeze said it is too early to say when the commission, which has yet to be appointed, will reach conclusions.

“For us it is important to put care ahead of speed,” he said.

More than 100,000 Jews — 70 per cent of the Dutch Jewish community — did not survive the war. Most were deported from the Netherlands and killed in Nazi concentration camps.

Most of the Dutch victims were rounded up in cities and taken by train to camps in the Netherlands before being sent to the border and put on German trains to concentration camps.

NS apologized for its role in the deportations in 2005.

But that was not enough for Salo Muller, a former physiotherapist with Amsterdam soccer club Ajax whose parents were sent by train to the Westerbork camp in the eastern Netherlands before being transported to Auschwitz, where they were murdered in the camp’s gas chambers.

Muller has pushed in recent years for reparations. His agreement with NS boss Roger van Boxtel was broadcast Tuesday night on Dutch current affairs show Nieuwsuur.

“What this means for me is that the NS sees that the suffering is not over; that very many Jews are still suffering,” Muller said on Nieuwsuur.

“That is why I am so happy that they now see, on moral grounds … that reparations will be paid.”

The Dutch railway company is not the first in Europe to confront its dark wartime history.

French railway company SNCF also has expressed regret for its role in transporting Jews during World War II. The railway acknowledges that SNCF’s equipment and staff were used to transport 76,000 Jews to Germany. SNCF has argued that it had no effective control over operations when France was under Nazi occupation from 1940 to 1944.

France’s government has paid more than $6 billion in reparations to French citizens and certain deportees.

The German government has paid around 70 billion euros in compensation for Nazi crimes, mainly to Jewish survivors.

By The Associated Press

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