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O’Malley to sign Holocaust disclosure bill

Gov. Martin O’Malley will sign into law Thursday a measure that will require the French national railroad to disclose its role in the Holocaust so a subsidiary can bid on a lucrative MARC train contract.

The move drew praise from federal lawmakers, who have considered legislation in recent years that would give U.S. courts jurisdiction over some cases involving the deportations conducted on SNCF trains during World War II.

“With the Maryland legislation, the first ofits kind in the country, Maryland will be a true national leader in providing such transparency to your taxpayers,” eight U.S. representatives wrote to O’Malley.

Maryland Reps. Dutch Ruppersburger, John Sarbanes and Elijah Cummings were among those who signed the letter.

They wrote: “In Congress, we have introduced the Holocaust Rail Justice Act (H.R. 1193 I S. 634) which would provide SNCF’s victims with their long awaited and much deserved day in court. By finally forcing SNCF out of the shadows, and by precluding SNCF from hiding behind foreign sovereign immunity, the Holocaust Rail Justice Act will finally provide this accountability. The Holocaust survivors who have fought for over a decade to hold SNCF accountable deserve no less.”

The Maryland legislation targets SNCF, the French national railroad. From 1942 to 1944, some 76,000 people were herded into SNCF cattle cars and shipped to the French border, where German engineers drove the last leg of the trip to concentration camps.

SNCF owns a majority of Keolis America, which, through subsidiary Keolis Rail Services America, is seeking the contract to run MARC’s Camden and Brunswick lines.

The bill, HB 520, would require SNCF to pay for a team of archivists to comb through the company’s war-era records for those relevant to the deportations, catalog them, digitize them and post them online in a “searchable and analyzable” format. The records would have to be made available before Keolis could be awarded a MARC contract.