The Dutch national railways company will for the first time pay individual compensation to relatives of Jews deported to German death camps during World War II, the country’s rail provider announced.
The announcement comes after talks between National Rail (NS) top director Roger van Boxtel and former Ajax football club physiotherapist Salo Muller, who lost both his parents during the war.
Muller has been fighting since mid-2017 for individual compensation from the NS, who transported his parents by train from Amsterdam to the notorious Westerbork transit camp in northeast Netherlands. From there they were sent to their deaths at the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland.
“We have decided together to… appoint a commission,” the NS said in a statement. “This commission is tasked to look at how the NS, for moral reasons can pay individual compensation,” it said.
As with many other Dutch companies, the NS continued in the service of Nazi occupiers after Germany overran the lowlands country in May 1940.
The company earned millions of euros in today’s terms to transport Jewish families to Westerbork, the NOS national newscaster reported.
This included teenage diarist Anne Frank in August 8, 1944, after she and other members of her group were betrayed and arrested by the Gestapo.
At Westerbork, in the northeast Drente province some 107,000 of the Netherlands’ 140,000-strong Jewish population were eventually interred before being sent to death camps like Auschwitz, Sobibor and Bergen-Belsen in the east.
“The NS adhered to a German command to make trains available. The Germans paid for this and the NS had to make sure that the trains ran on time,” Dirk Mulder of the Centre for Memory at Westerbork told the NOS.
The NS in 2005 officially apologized for its role in the Second World War, but no individual compensation has been paid until now.
The NS has been actively involved in projects, including a one-million-euro donation to help rebuild Westerbork, the NOS said.
“The NS during World War II operated trains commanded by the occupier,” the rail operator said.
“It was a black page in our country’s history and also for our own company. It’s a past which we cannot ignore,” the NS said.