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Dutch railway firm to pay compensation for its role in Holocaust

The Dutch state railway company is to pay compensation to Holocaust survivors and their families, after accusations that it earned millions transporting Jewish people on the way to death camps.   

In a statement on Tuesday, the state-owned NS, admitted that it “cannot look away” from its past,  “a dark chapter in the history of our country and our company.”

Holocaust survivor Salo Muller, whose parents were arrested and transported to the transit camp of Westerbork, and then on to Auschwitz, has accused the NS of making millions from the occupying German forces in World War Two.

The former physiotherapist for Ajax football team, who was five when his parents were taken away and murdered in 1942, had threatened to sue the NS for compensation.

It has been widely reported in the Dutch media that the business earned about €2.5m from these transports.

“The Nazis stole Jewish people’s gold, and used this to pay the NS,” Mr Muller told The Volkskrant. “The NS knew this, and accepted it for all of those people in cattle cars. And in the 75 years since, it has done nothing to recompense that on an individual level. I believe that is unacceptable.

“It recognised at the time that this was completely wrong but has not done enough to alleviate the suffering.”

The railway, which apologised for the part it played in these deportations in 2005, has announced that it will set up a commission to recommend how it should should compensate “survivors and their direct family” on moral grounds.

The 82-year-old Mr Muller has, it announced, met with its chief executive Roger van Boxtel and been asked to help with the selection and brief for this commission.

“We decided together not to confront each other in court, but to set up a commission,” Mr Van Boxtel told the NOS Dutch broadcaster. “This commission will work out how we can put together individual compensation packages for those affected.”

Mr Muller told the NOS that this was an “extraordinary” result that he had not dared to dream of and that he is “very emotional and grateful.”

A Dutch parliamentary commission and countless publications have looked critically at the role of the railway firm in the war, and in response it has invested in monuments, exhibitions and educational programmes, it added in a press release.

The Daily Telegraph has contacted Mr Muller’s lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld for a comment.

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