Deutsche Bahn urged to pay up for wartime past of predecessor | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 12.01.2010
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Deutsche Bahn urged to pay up for wartime past of predecessor

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn is being urged to compensate Polish victims of the Nazis who were transported on the trains of its wartime predecessor. The call comes as the firm tries to enter the Polish market.

The logo of Deutsche Bahn

Deutsche Bahn wants to enter the Polish railway market

Poland's main association for former concentration camp inmates is calling on Deutsche Bahn to offer financial compensation to former prisoners.

The call comes as Deutsche Bahn makes moves to operate train services in Poland.

"Deutsche Bahn wants to profit in our country," said Stanislaw Zalewski, head of the Polish Association of Former Political Prisoners of Hitler's Prisons and Concentration Camps. "We want them to hand over a sum for humanitarian aid for former prisoners and forced laborers."

Payments for necessities

Rather than wanting excessive compensation payouts, he said, many of the group's 7,000 remaining members needed money to pay for health care and heating costs.

"Medical care and drugs cost a lot in Poland, and the majority of our members aren't well off," said Zalewski.

Profits made during war

The German organization Train of Commemoration, which is dedicated to remembering victims of Nazi deportations, estimates that Deutsche Bahn's wartime predecessor Deutsche Reichsbahn made a sum worth at least 445 million euros ($645 million) in today's money by transporting detainees.

Germany's state-controlled Deutsche Bahn recently lodged an application with Polish authorities to operate passenger services in Poland.

Under a planned partnership between Deutsche Bahn and the Polish state rail company PKP Intercity, trains will soon run from Berlin to the Polish bathing resort town of Kolobrzeg. The companies already cooperate on international intercity routes.

Editor: Michael Lawton

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