(JTA) – The French National Assembly voted to approve the creation of a $60 million fund to compensate Holocaust victims transported to Nazi camps by the state railroad SNCF.
The fund, to be administered by the United States, would compensate foreign nationals and also protect France against lawsuits filed in the United States.
The lower house of the French Parliament approved the fund on Wednesday. The French Conservative opposition abstained from the vote, according to Reuters.
The fund redresses longstanding claims by survivors who were otherwise unable to obtain reparations limited to French nationals through the French pension system.
Compensation will be available to non-French nationals who are citizens of the United States and any other country that does not have a bilateral reparations agreement with France. Belgium, Poland, Britain, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have such agreements.
Surviving spouses and the estates of survivors will also be eligible. The fund could ultimately pay out to several thousand people or estates.
The plan could affect bills under consideration in a number of U.S. state legislatures that would ban any dealings with SNCF, a major exporter of rail cars, until it agreed to address lawsuits.
The French Senate will vote on the bill on July 9.
SNCF trains transported 76,000 Jews and other prisoners from the suburbs of Paris to the German border from 1942 to 1944. The company was paid per head per kilometer, according to reports.
Owned by the French government, SNCF says it has acknowledged the role that its wartime management played in collaborating with the Nazis and given public apologies. It also has supported memorial efforts and research of the Holocaust in France.