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O’Malley meets Holocaust survivor

Holocaust survivor Leo Bretholz met with Gov. Martin O’Malley on Thurday afternoon. The two chatted for about 40 minutes, with much of the conversation centered on Bretholz’s escape from a train carrying him to a Nazi death camp.

O’Malley gave Bretholz a framed copy of a bill he signed into law only hours earlier. The new law requires SNCF, the French national railroad, to disclose its role in the Holocaust to allow its subsidiary Keolis Rail Services America, to bid on a lucrative MARC train contract.

Some 76,000 people were deported from France on SNCF rail cars. Bretholz, then 21, escaped before his train reached Auschwitz with 1,000 people aboard. (Check out Bretholz on camera here.)

“This is a victory,” Bretholz said of the legislation. “This is a company that did terrible things.”

He showed O’Malley a French book that listed the names, home towns and birth dates of the 76,000 deportees. Each survivor was denoted with a dot next to his or her names.

“We don’t have many dots — 2,000 among 76,000,” he said.

The meeting included many lighter moments, too. One came when supporters of the SNCF bill told the governor a bipartisan group of U.S. representatives, including three from Maryland, wrote to congratulate him on passage of the bill.

“Bipartisan?” O’Malley said. “I’m not sure I’ve ever received a bipartisan letter from Congress.”