27.11.2022

Man leaves €2m to famous French village which sheltered him from Nazi persecution

Eric Schwam, who died on Christmas day, unexpectedly revealed he wanted to give around €2m (£1.8m) to Le Chambon-sur-Lignon which is located in the mountains in south eastern France.

A man who escaped the Nazis has donated a sizeable chunk of his wealth to a village in France which protected him and his family from being terrorised by Hitler’s regime.

The 90-year-old Austrian man arrived in the village alongside his family in 1943 and were hidden in a school for the entirety of World War II – staying there until 1950.

While the mayor has refused to put a concrete number on the figure Mr Schwam donated, the previous mayor told a local website she discussed the donation with him and his wife in person and it was around €2m (£1.8m).

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is known for welcoming a range of refugees escaping torment and hiding them from their persecutors – spanning from priests in the French Revolution to Jews during the Holocaust.

The village safeguarded around 2,500 Jewish refugees during the Second World War – with Israel subsequently commemorating its inhabitants.

After a pastor and his wife spearheaded the hiding of Jews, the village became a fulcrum of the resistance movement as locals put themselves at grave risk to protect Jews from harm.

Mr Schwam, who studied pharmacy, is said to have requested the money he donated to the village is poured into educational and youth projects – especially scholarships.

He went back to the Austrian capital of Vienna with his parents after the war came to an end before later relocating to Lyon in east central France where he went on to live with his Catholic wife until he died.

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