Holocaust memorial group slams rail company over charges

6th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

A foundation that aims to highlight the role of the German railway system in the Holocaust is complaining that the Deutsche Bahn rail company will not allow it free use of the tracks.

6 January 2008

Berlin (dpa) - A foundation that aims to highlight the role of the German railway system in the Holocaust is complaining that the Deutsche Bahn rail company will not allow it free use of the tracks.

The group's Train of Memory, a vintage steam locomotive hauling two carriages containing pictures of child Holocaust victims, has been touring German cities and is to reach the Auschwitz death camp in Poland on May 8.

Bahn confirmed Friday it was charging the foundation the same toll for track use as other private train operators. A Bahn spokesman said the company had to treat all customers equally and not allow some a free ride.

The Train of Memory group argues that Bahn must face up to its historic responsibility as the transport provider to the Nazis. It said the tens of thousands of euros of tolls were "in effect a boycott of this public commemoration."

The exhibition in the carriages uses letters and biographies to show how Jewish children were caught up in the Nazi machinery of death and taken to the gas chambers in cattle wagons.

The spokesman, Hans-Ruediger Minow, told the leftist newspaper Neues Deutschland, "We expect protests in Germany and internationally until Bahn and the Ministry of Transport see reason."

A ministry spokesman said it was being suggested to federally owned Bahn that the company use the income from the train as a corporate charitable grant.

Bahn has had a prickly relationship with Minow's group and is to launch its own travelling Holocaust exhibition, combining railways museum material with exhibits from France about the cattle-truck transport of the victims.

So far 40,000 people have seen the Train of Memory exhibition, which is set to visit a total of 40 German cities.

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