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Transit firm that will run Mass. commuter rail hit with controversy over Holocaust reparations

The MBTA awarded Keolis a $2.68 billion commuter rail contract in January,
The MBTA awarded Keolis a $2.68 billion commuter rail contract in January,Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/File 2010

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Transit giant Keolis America has become embroiled in a controversy over Holocaust reparations that threatens to mar the transit company’s international reputation just as it gears up to take over the reins of the Massachusetts commuter rail system — a controversy so heated that French and United States diplomats are stepping in.

The company’s majority shareholder is the Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français, the French national railway that transported more than 76,000 Jewish people from France to their deaths at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during Nazi occupation in World War II.

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