The Netherlands' state-owned train operator NS announced on Thursday that it will spend "several tens of millions of euros" to compensate Holocaust survivors for its role in the transportation of thousands of Jews, Roma and Sinti to concentration camps during the Second World War.
"Several thousand people" will be eligible for a one-off payment, including 500 survivors, Nederlanse Spoorwegen (NS) said in a statement.
The victims' lawyer, Liesbeth Zegveld, confirmed to the EFE news agency that survivors will each receive €15,000 euros, widows and widowers will get €7,500 euros and children between €5,000 and €7,500, depending on whether they were born during or after the war.
She also added that the agreement was extended to include Roma and Sinti, who had been excluded from an original proposal.
The victims, she said, "always knew that this was their right but did not believe that justice was going to be done someday." They now applaud NS's decision to recognise the damage it unleashed by cooperating with the Nazi regime during the war, Zegveld stated.
'It is what it is'
The company had already issued an official apology in 2005 but had, at the time, rejected calls for compensation.
It decided to set up a commission tasked with looking at how the company could compensate Holocaust survivors or their immediate successors in November 2018 after meeting with Salo Muller, who had launched a legal procedure against them.
Muller, a former physiotherapist for the iconic Dutch football team, Ajax, had been orphaned during the war.
In a statement on Facebook, Muller thanked Zegveld for her "huge efforts and tenacity" as well as "everyone who supported me."
"Of course it was hard and unfortunately, not everyone is satisfied. But it is what is is," he added.
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.
NS also announced that they would extend research into the company's past and role during WWII and backed a recommendation from the committee to find a way to recognise those killed who did not have any surviving family including 20,000 children.