German Railway Hires Lawyers and PR Firm before Holocaust Lawsuits in U.S.
Sunday, April 08, 2012
Jews deported from France by train
More than 65 years after the end of World War II, Germany’s national railway, Deutsche Bahn, has hired an American law firm and a PR agency to lobby against legislation now before Congress that would allow Holocaust survivors to sue European railroads for damages in American courts. The Holocaust Rail Justice Act was proposed because French railway SNCF has successfully used the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act to prevent survivors from suing it for deporting 75,000 Jews and others from France to Germany; nevertheless Deutsche Bahn fears victims could sue it for millions if the legislation passes.
Deutsche Bahn may have a point. Harriet Tamen, a New York attorney representing 600 Holocaust survivors in a case against SNCF, said the law would apply only to the French network, and it does contain a lengthy introductory section that specifically references the suits against SNCF. The actual operating text of the bill, however, is worded more broadly, and though limited to the Holocaust, could easily cover Deutsche Bahn’s participation in the transportation of thousands of Jews and others to their deaths. The bill states as follows:
“The United States district courts shall have original jurisdiction, … of any civil action for damages for personal injury or death that--(1) arose from the deportation of persons to Nazi concentration camps during the period beginning on January 1, 1942, and ending on December 31, 1944; and (2) is brought by any such person, or any heir or survivor of such person, against a railroad that--(A) owned or operated the trains on which the persons were so deported; and (B) was organized as a separate legal entity at the time of the deportation, whether or not any of the equity interest in the railroad was owned by a foreign state.”
German sources have reported that the law firm hired by Deutsche Bahn is White & Case, and the PR firm is Strategy XXI Partners.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York), who is sponsoring the Holocaust Rail Justice Act, has said that of the 76,000 Jews and other prisoners transported to the Nazi camps by SNCF only 3% survived.
To Learn More:
German Railway Fears Flood of Lawsuits over Holocaust Trains (by Tony Paterson, The Independent)
Deutsche Bahn Lobbies on US Holocaust lLw (by Michael Knigge, Deutsche Welt)
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