Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Remembering the Holocaust. That’s what a new state law is designed to do.
As Gigi Barnett explains, it’s the first of its kind, and one Holocaust survivor hopes Maryland can be a trailblazer.
It was a dark night in 1942 when Leo Bretholz jumped from a moving train. He was 22, and the leap saved his life.
“It was fear that motivated me,” he recalled. “F.E.A.R.”
The final destination: A Nazi concentration camp.
“We didn’t know, but it was Auschwitz,” Bretholz said. “We later knew. Nobody ever came back from there. And, 72 hours later, I would have been gassed.”
Sixty-nine years later, Bretholz owns a law signed by Governor Martin O’Malley requiring the same rail company– that years ago transported Bretholz and millions others– to disclose all records about the victims it hauled and the thousands of dollars in valuables taken from them before they boarded.
“This governor did something that is an example for other states. He is the first one that did it,” Bretholz said.
The Paris-based rail company — Keolis — was paid millions to transport more than 77, 000 Jews to concentration camps.
While the company has acknowledged what happened, Bretholz says it’s not enough.
And Keolis has recently bid on a contract to operate for MARC commuter trains.
“You know how they got paid? Sending people to their death by the Germans– per head and per kilo. They made money then and if they get a contract here they will make more money here. It’s all a matter of dollars and cents,” Bretholz said.
Bretholz says the new law should send a message.
“I hope that it is a message that . . . it will never pay to do evil things,” he said.
Bretholz says Maryland is not alone. Keolis has made similar bids on rail contracts in California and Florida.
Supporters of the new law say it will force more transparency from other companies like Keolis.