Holocaust survivors and their families fear the train system that would link Miami with Orlando could hire a French company that delivered tens of thousands of Jews to concentration camps during World War II.
They do not want the French national railway system SNCF making money in the United States, at least not until they say the company fully opens war time books and offers an apology and reparations.
"It makes me very angry. I'm sad," said Rosette Goldstein, 75, who lives in Boca Raton and was hidden as a child from the Germans by a French farmer. Her father was taken in an SNCF train to the German border, where he was sent to a camp and his death.
SNCF officials have consistently denied wrongdoing and say they are sorry about what happened seven decades or more ago. They were forced, they said, to transport Jews and others by the Nazis after they occupied France.
In a statement to the Orlando Sentinel, SNCF said it is not in talks with the All Aboard Florida company. But officials declined to comment about a subsidiary company called Keolis Transit America negotiating to run the train. Keolis officials did not return phone calls and emails. The company specializes in operating transit systems across the United States, including trolleys in Miami, and has been controlled by SNCF since 2010.
All Aboard Florida president Don Robinson said his Coral Gables based company has made no decisions on whether SNCF would run trains along what promises to be a 230-mile route.
"…we are evaluating all options, including operating the rail system ourselves," said Don Robinson, a former Walt Disney World executive hired by All Aboard Florida in March.
Goldstein and others have long claimed that SNCF collaborated with the Nazis during the war and have never come clean about its role in carrying 76,000 people across country in cattle cars, most to their death.
"A company like SNCF has to make good," she said. "What they did is not right."
SNCF, which stands for Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francaise, maintains top officials have publicly apologized for the company's role in the transport of Jews and have placed online more than 1 million documents detailing its wartime activities. <