July 30: A Holocaust survivor who successfully campaigned for the Dutch railway to pay compensation for transporting people to the Nazi concentration camps has tabled a legal claim against the German state over the wartime role of the Deutsche Reichsbahn.
Salo Muller, 84, whose parents were taken by rail from Amsterdam to the Dutch transit camp Westerbork, and on to their deaths at Auschwitz, is demanding an apology and financial recompense for about 500 Dutch survivors and about 5,500 next of kin, The Guardian reported.
The Deutsche Reichsbahn, the wartime German railway authority, was responsible for transporting about 107,000 Dutch Jewish people to their deaths. The victims were often forced to pay for the costs of their travel in squalid, murderous conditions, earning an estimated €16m (£14.5m) in today’s money for the German railways. Adults had paid 4 pfennigs per kilometre, children 2 pfennigs, while those under the age of 4 travelled free.
In a letter to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, Muller’s lawyer writes that the heirs of the wartime German railways have a moral and legal obligation to recognise their role in the suffering of the Jewish, Sinti and Roma people.
“I blame the railway company for knowingly transporting Jews to the concentration camps and for killing those Jews there in a terrible way,” Muller told the Dutch current affairs programme Nieuwsuur. “I can’t give up because this hurts me every day. Every day I have to think about this and it hurts me. And I want that pain to finally pass.”
Last year, Muller, a former physiotherapist at Ajax football club, secured an apology and up to €50m in compensation from the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) for survivors of the transportations, their widows, widowers and children.