A Rememberance March
The train disaster in 2002 between Paris and Munich meant Rollin Amore lost five family members. He now comes here from America - as a message to the German Railways.
NANCY. 500 km are between Nancy and Munich. Currently, the American, Rollin Amore, strides foot by foot. The 59-year-old financial advisor needs so little for his journey,-- he wears a only a backpack. He is on a journey that started nine years ago. It's the journey of his five family members that never returned home.
On 6 November 2002 his mother, Susanne, brother Salvatore "Michael", sister Jeanne,12-year-old niece, Emily, and 8-year-old nephew Michael, died on the night train from Paris to Munich shortly after a fire broke out in Nancy. Overall, twelve lost their lives that night. It was a misfortune that could have been prevented. The train did not have call points. It also lacked fire extinguishers. On the ninth anniversary of the disaster Rollin Amore is now finishing the journey by foot. In the week ahead he will arrive in Munich, his goal point. "I want to symbolically finish the journey for all victims. It is important that their memory is held in honor, " He also has a message to the German railway. "You need to take responsibility for your actions.”
On this day nine years ago, the father of four recalls the events well. He was in San Francisco and learned by phone what had happened. Nine years later his voice is clear and powerful when he talks about the events. It is hard to appreciate the magnitude of loss he suffered. “It’s my journey into the past” he says. His 72-year old mother, brother, sister-in-law and their two children had in 2002 spontaneously decided to take a trip to Europe. His mother, Susanne, had grown up in Germany. She was living in Stuttguart when she met her husband, a U.S. soldier who was stationed there during the second World War. They married and moved to the United States where they raised a family of three boys.
In 2002, a year after her husband’s death, they intended to go back to Germany to show their grandchildren their heritage. Additionally, their son, Salvatore “Michael” wanted to show his children a special site: Paris. According to his brother, Rollin, it was here he proposed to his wife, Jeanne. “In the charred remains of the train was found a diary of my nephew. He described the events as “Mommy and Daddy just could not agree on which bench Daddy proposed on”.
After Paris, the five family members wanted to take the night train back to Germany where they would take a flight back to their home state of Connecticut. They went to sleep to wake up to a raging fire. For twelve people, including the Amore family, their compartment was a death trap because they were locked in from the outside. Later, the investigation revealed that the fire broke out because a German conductor put a travel bags and garments on top of a hot plate that was on. When he saw the fire, he left the people in his compartment and fled for his own life, disregarding the fact that they were locked in from the outside. He succeeded in saving his own life, but no one else’s.
After years of legal proceedings it was ruled that the sleeper car belonged to the French railway company SFNC and the German railway was acquitted. The conductor of the DB-sleeper was merely suspended for one year for negligence and homicide.
Rollin Amore does not understand the acquittal. That is why he is on his memorial march. “The German Railroad needs to apologize publicly and admit they have made a mistake. For me it is frustrating that such a large company is running away from their responsibility”