(JTA) – Payments have started issuing from a U.S.-run compensation fund for Holocaust survivors deported to Nazi camps via the French rail system. The $60 million compensation fund established in December 2014 has approved 68 claims and is processing an estimated 700 in total, Stuart Eizenstat, the secretary of state’s special adviser for Holocaust issues, said in a conference call last week. The money comes from France, but the United States is administering and distributing the funds to eligible Americans, Israelis and other foreigners, their spouses and heirs who were not entitled to make claims under existing French programs. In return, the United States protects France from American lawsuits related to Holocaust deportations of Jews from the country. Several U.S. state governments banned their local transportation services from contracting with the French railway SNCF, a major exporter of rail cars, until the reparations issue was resolved. Survivors can receive $204,000 under the program, while their spouses can receive $51,000.
The deadline for filing claims has been extended to January. Forms and instructions are available on the State Department website. A hotline has been set up at (202) 776-8385.