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Yad Vashem and SNCF Agreement to Further Research of Deportations from France During the Holocaust

23 May 2012

Today the National Society of French Railways (SNCF) will sign an agreement with Yad Vashem to increase research into the scope of deportations of Jews from France during the Holocaust. The SNCF's contribution will support research into the French section of the “Transports to Extinction: Shoah Deportation Database”. The agreement between the SNCF and Yad Vashem will be signed at Yad Vashem by Bernard Emsellem, Senior Vice President of SNCF and Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem.

SNCF's contribution will assist researchers in more fully documenting the some 80 mass transports of Jews from France. Approximately 76,000 French Jews were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau. The research will build on the work done by Serge Klarsfeld, (Memorial of the Deportation of Jews from France). A detailed analysis of records of the SNCF during the Holocaust, of which Yad Vashem has received a copy, will be conducted in order to explore the processes involved. Survivors' testimonies, private documents and photographs will shed light on the deportees’ experience. The research will also map transports within France, from small towns and villages to Drancy.

“We welcome this contribution to research by SNCF,” said Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem. “The 'Final Solution' could not have been carried out by the Germans without the extensive cooperation of many people at all levels of society and governments throughout Europe. This research highlights the unique role of the transports in the extermination of the Jewish people.”

"The SNCF is proud to support the research regarding deportations from France, part of Yad Vashem's significant project, 'Transports to Extinction: Shoah Deportation Database,'" said Bernard Emsellem, Senior VP of SNCF. Today, this contribution strengthens SNCF's commitment to complete transparency, acknowledgment of the past, and commitment to remembrance of the victims of the tragedy of the Holocaust. This research embodies a pedagogic perspective towards educating future generations to never forget."

Yad Vashem's International Institute for Holocaust Research long term “Transports to Extinction: Shoah (Holocaust) Deportation Database” Research Project maps the deportations of Jews to concentration and extermination camps and killing sites in Europe. While in the past, historians have seen the deportations simply as a necessary logistical step on the way to the “Final Solution” the research undertaken in the “Transports to Extinction” project indicates that the deportations were not simply an intermediary stage between transit camps and ghettos and finally extermination camps, but had an overall plan, unique in its design, its implementation and its historical significance. Thus far, the project has mapped some 400 transports from Vienna to various destinations, among them, Minsk, Riga, Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, and from Berlin, Cologne, Breslau, and several Czech cities, including Prague, Brno and Plzen to Terezin. Using all the resources available, Yad Vashem researchers have reconstructed the transport's route, including information on the persons involved in organizing the transport, the socio-economic characteristics of the Jewish deportees, and recollection of survivors to build a complete picture of these transports. The findings are available, in English, German and Hebrew on www.yadvashem.org. The findings relating to transports in and from France will also be available in French.