NS to pay damages for Holocaust transports

Kamp Westerbork, the transit camp used by SS during World War II Photo by Ruud Hilgeman/flickr

NS will pay individual compensation to survivors and relatives of the Holocaust, CEO Roger van Boxtel said to Nieuwsuur. The Dutch rail company earned millions by transporting Jewish people to concentration camp Westerbork during the Second World War.

This puts an end to a battle between NS and Salo Muller, whose parents were transported to Westerbork on an NS train in 1941, when he was five years old. They spent nine weeks in the camp before being transported to Auschwitz, where they died in a gas chamber.

"We have decided not to legally confront each other, but to set up a committee", Van Boxtel said to Nieuwsuur. "The committee will find out how we can give form to an individual compensation for those affected." How high the damages will be, and who exactly will be entitled thereto, is not yet known. 

Muller called the rail company's announcement "extraordinary". "It is a result that I might have dared to dream about, but that I did not expect. It made me very emotional and I am grateful that it happened", he said to the program. "It means that NS recognizes that the suffering has not lapsed. That the suffering continues to exist for many Jewish people. That is why I am so happy that NS now recognizes that it has to pay damages on moral grounds."

NS did not resist against the Nazis order to deport Jewish people to camp Weserbork. The company earned around 2.5 million euros converted in these transports. In 2005 NS openly apologized for its role in the war. To commemorate the victims, NS supports a number of projects, such as contributing 1 million euros to renovate Westerbork, according to Nieuwsuur. Until now, NS refused to pay individual compensation for the victims and their relatives.