Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing the bipartisan Holocaust Rail Justice Act along with my colleagues Representatives ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER, ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS, CHARLES B. RANGEL, JOHN SARBANES, RUSH HOLT, BILL PASCRELL, JR., ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, GERRY CONNOLLY, TED DEUTCH, CORRINE BROWN, ROBERT BRADY, JERROLD NADLER, JIM MORAN, DAVID CICILLINE, ALCEE HASTINGS, RAÚL M. GRIJALVA, PETER KING, LOIS FRANKEL and RANDY WEBER.
During World War II, trains operated by Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais (SNCF) transported more than 75,000 Jews, United States pilots shot down over France, and other ``undesirables,'' from France toward Nazi death camps. SNCF willingly collaborated with the Nazi government, operating the trains as a commercial venture and were paid per head, per kilometer to deliver thousands to their deaths.
SNCF has not been held accountable for its actions by never paying reparations to its victims in the almost 70 years since the end of World War II. The Holocaust Rail Justice Act allows the hundreds of known survivors, veterans and their family members living in the United States today to hold SNCF accountable. Holocaust survivors would be granted their deserved day in court, including many who have sought legal action for the past 10 years.
SNCF has thus far succeeded in evading jurisdiction in the United States courts by hiding behind foreign sovereign immunity. This legislation would simply preclude, in this one limited instance, the defense of foreign sovereign immunity from being raised. As the facts make clear, this is not the type of situation foreign sovereign immunity was intended to cover.
I urge my colleagues to cosponsor this legislation that would finally hold SNCF accountable for its wartime actions and provide survivors with what is likely their last opportunity for justice in their lifetimes.