A wealthy Austrian Erich Schwam, who passed away in December last year, has left his fortune to the French village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon to thank residents for hiding his family from Nazis during World War II.
In his will that was dated 9th November 2020, Schwam wrote that he wanted “to thank them [the village residents] for the welcome many extended me in the field of education.” He wished that the money be used to promote education by funding scholarships and schools in the south-central French town.
While the exact sum is not disclosed, it is known to be at least a few hundred thousand euros.
“We are extremely honored and we will use the sum according to Mr. Schwam’s will,” the town’s deputy mayor, Denise Vallat, told CNN.
A Jewish refugee, Schwam arrived in the village with his mother and father in 1943 when he was merely 12 or 13. He left the village only in 1950 and moved to Lyon to pursue his studies of pharmacy. Schwam’s family is known to originally be from Vienna, where his father worked as a doctor.
Denise Vallat, who is also culture and communication assistant at Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, said the town was contacted by a notary about three weeks ago to further the discussion of the donation.
“He was a very discreet gentleman and he didn’t want a lot of publicity about his gesture,” she was quoted by France 3 as saying. “Little is known about the donor but we did some research.”
Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, which has a population of merely 2,500, has been known to protect thousands of Jews from persecution.
Isn’t this a wonderful gesture by the gentleman? Let us know what you think about this charitable move by Eric Schwam in the comments section below.