WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hungarian survivors of the Holocaust and families of the victims sued the Republic of Hungary and its two rail companies in U.S. court on Thursday, accusing them of collaborating with the Nazis to exterminate Jews during World War Two.
The lawsuit accused the Hungarian government and rail companies of confiscating property of Jews and transporting them to ghettos and concentration camps where hundreds of thousands perished in Nazi-occupied Poland and Ukraine.
“The Jewish victims of the Hungarian Holocaust seek only what is due them — compensation and restitution for the atrocities they suffered at the hands of the defendants,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks class-action status and unspecified damages. It said at least 300 survivors have been identified as possible members of the class but there could be more than 5,000.
A lawyer for the individuals suing, Chuck Fax, said the claims likely total tens of millions of dollars and possibly more.
A Hungarian Embassy spokesman in Washington had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.
The case was brought under two federal statutes, one that provides exceptions to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act which allow individuals to sue foreign governments that typically have immunity from lawsuits.
The other statute permits non-U.S. citizens to bring claims against private foreign entities in American courts. The lawsuit targets the government, the Hungarian national railway and its cargo rail company which was privatized in 2008.
Fax said that the lawsuit was still timely because Hungary has yet to compensate the survivors or their families or return the assets to them.
Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Jerry Norton