Holocaust survivors to be compensated by Dutch wartime train operator

Construction of railway tracks leading to the Westerbork camp.
Construction of railway tracks leading to the Westerbork camp. Copyright Rudolf Breslauer
By Alice Tidey
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More than 100,000 Dutch Jews were killed during the Second World War.


The Netherlands' state-owned train operator is to compensate Holocaust survivors for its role in the transportation of thousands of Dutch Jews to concentration camps during the Second World War, the company announced on Tuesday.

Nederlanse Spoorwegen (NS) said it is setting up a commission tasked with looking at how the company can compensate Holocaust survivors or their immediate successors.

The move was announced after the company met with Salo Muller, a former physiotherapist for the iconic Dutch football team, Ajax. Muller's parents were killed in the war, and he launched a legal procedure against the company.

"NS operated trains during the Second World War on behalf of the occupying forces. This is a black page of the history of our country and our company and a past we do not look away from," Muller and NS CEO Roger van Boxtel said in a statement.

The company had already issued an official apology in 2005 but had, at the time, rejected calls for compensation.

No detail has yet been given as to how many people may be eligible for compensation or how much they are likely to receive.

Nazi forces invaded the Netherlands in May 1940 and instructed Dutch authorities to deport Jews.

According to national broadcaster NOS, NS was paid the equivalent of €2.5 million during the war to transport Dutch Jews to the Westerbork transit camp, from where they would then be sent to concentration camps in Poland and Germany including Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

Some 105,000 Dutch Jews were brought to Westerbork and then to concentration camps where approximately 100,000 of them, including Saxo Muller's parents and Anne Frank, were killed. Before the war, the Jewish population in the Netherlands was estimated at 140,000.

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