Austrian Man Leaves $2 Million to French Village That Hid His Family from Nazis

Visitors to the Jewish Memorial Museum in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. Photograph: parkerphotography/Alamy

An Austrian man who fled the Nazis with his family during the second world war has bequeathed a large part of his fortune to the French village whose residents hid them from persecution for years.

Eric Schwam, who died aged 90 on 25 December, wrote the surprise gift into his will for Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, located on a remote mountain plateau in south-east France that historically has a large Protestant community known for offering shelter to those in need.

“It’s a large amount for the village,” the mayor, Jean-Michel Eyraud, said.

He declined to specify the amount since the will was still being sorted out, but his predecessor, who told a local website that she met Schwam and his wife twice to discuss the gift, said it was about €2m (£1.8m).

Schwam and his family arrived in 1943 and were hidden in a school for the duration of the war, and remained until 1950.

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SOURCE: AFP, The Guardian