WASHINGTON – A GROUP of survivors and descendants of victims of the Holocaust are suing the Hungarian state railroad company in US court for its role in transporting Jews to the Auschwitz death camp.

The class action suit was filed Tuesday in a US district court in Chicago by attorneys representing the group of 95 plaintiffs. The suit, seen by AFP, seeks 1.24 billion (S$1.74 billion) in compensation and punitive damages.

According to the document, the Hungarian railroad company ‘knowingly provided the trains for delivering 437,000 Jews to their death in Auschwitz’ between March and October 1944. Railroad employees are accused of ‘looting the plaintiffs’ possessions, valuables, heirlooms, stock certificates, currency and jewelry from the plaintiffs’ luggage.

‘Without the trains provided by (the defendant), hundreds of thousands of Jews could not have been transported to Auschwitz,’ the suit charges.

The plaintiffs are asking for US$240 million for the stolen property and one billion dollars ‘as punitive damages reflecting the heinous and zealous participation by the defendants in genocide. ‘Even though discussion of money is necessarily crass in the context of the unspeakable evil that was inflicted upon the Holocaust victims, nevertheless the law is powerless to do anything other than to obtain financial restitution,’ it said.

According to the plaintiffs, by US law the Hungarian railroad company can be sued if it is ‘engaged in commercial activity in the United States. This final requirement is satisfied by the fact that the defendant sells tickets and passes for its railways through its agents in the United States,’ the document reads.