There’s a new bill being created in an attempt to bar any company which was involved in the World War 2 holocaust, including companies such as SNCF & French National Railway Corporation from being able to work on the new California high-speed rail line.
This bill seems to be coming from the large Jewish population in San Francisco, some of which are holocaust survivors in their 90s, who are afraid that they might be riding the same trains they rode on as prisoners.
This strikes me as DUMB, mainly because anybody involved in any level of decision-making for any of these companies in WW2 is either long dead, or at least long retired. Likewise, anyone who IS currently working for SNCF was probably not even born yet during WW2. Is it rationale to hold a company responsible for acts they were responsible for half a century ago (in SNCF’s case, transporting prisoners via train to concentration camps), and likely were forced to commit? Did the United States bar Mitsubishi, the company which built the planes which bombed Pearl Harbor, from selling their products here?
You can get people to ban dihydrogen monoxide if you get out there and work to sell the idea.
I doubt the initiative will pass, but it will likely get a surprisingly large number of people signing their name to it – not because they think it should be so, but because they’re stupid and heard “Anti-Nazi” and were shown a clipboard with a place to sign.
One of the messages sent by not doing so is that doing such business will be forgiven, in time. Make your money, build up your company, and you get to pass it on with nary a blot on the record to the next people, the next stockholders. Hopefully of course such a situation will never come about again. But it has the same kind of benefits that holding any person or company publically to account would have; it acts as a deterrent.
As a practical matter, things ultimately have been and are forgiven with time.
Take SNCF as an example. It’s a state-controlled company. We’ve effectively told France, qua France, that they are off the hook for their complaisance if not collaboration with the Germans. Why single out an agency of France’s government for harsher treatment than we give France or the French? Incidentally, there has been litigation against SNCF in France, in which they were partially held liable and partially exonerated. Shouldn’t there be some sort of res judicata effect to that?
Actually, I wouldn’t consider that incidental. I had to go look up res judicata, and assuming i’m understanding your point correctly I think you have a very good point. At the very least, something along those lines muddies the waters to the extent that there probably isn’t going to be much of a clear message to worry about.
As Huerta88 pointed out, SNCF is a state-controlled company, and has been since it was formed in 1938. For the spokesman in the article to claim…
…indicates he doesn’t seem to realize that for the period in question it was an entity operating under the orders of an occupying power that no longer exists, and I’m pretty sure profit was not the objective in any event. What is the point, then, of punishing the current entity?
Incidently, while SNCF probably licences the engineering for the track, power supply and infrastructure, contractors surely build these items, and Alstom apparently builds the trains themselves. Was Alstom (then GEC Alsthom) complicit in deportations or use of slave labor during WWII? No idear.
But who could use this tactic and not have it backfire on them? I thought most of the major players in this field are in Germany, Japan and China. (Bombardier is Canadian, but Bombardier Transportation,, the subsidiary that makes trains, is headquartered in Berlin.) I suppose it could be the Spanish (Talgo)…
By the way, it says here that the Acela was developed by a consortium between Bombardier and Alstom. Alstom also builds the high-speed trains for SNCF.
(a) because we have to. It’s got the largest economy in Europe and is a leader in any number of technologies that we need.
(b) Because 99% of the people who did bad things are dead, and the West has a (recent)-historical dislike of “corruption of the blood” type of punishing people for what their ancestors did (by the way, that logic leads pretty quickly to the deicide position that never did the Jews any favors);
(c) Because some form of “justice” was done at Nuremberg, through denazification and demilitarization, through the Russians raping the Hell out of and expropriating the property of any Germans they “liberated” from 1945 on (hey, rough justice, admittedly);
(d) the people who’d need to be forgiven either are, or are dead. Forgotten, no one’s advocating, but life goes on. I can’t think of a single historical incident where nation X did something bad, or someone from X did, and “we” maintained an indefinite refusal to deal with X or anyone from X. In human experience, it’s not practical nor is it regarded as fair.
Companies do things that will harm themselves in the near future in order to secure profits THIS QUARTER.
Managers of companies don’t know what will be considered unpopular in particular geographies in the future. Trying to act on that would be difficult. (yes, it’s hard to think people thought genocide would play out well, but a country seemed to act as though they thought it would.)
Also a deterrent that will affect (essentially) no current workers or shareholders isn’t much of a deterrent.