By Oisin Sweeney • 29 January 2021 • 21:12
The French village of Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon sheltered thousands of Jews from the Nazis - Image Source: Twitter
AN AUSTRIAN man has left his fortune to a French village that shielded him and his family from the Nazis during the Second World War.
The scenic village of Le Chambon-Sur-Lignon, in southeast France, has received a large donation of money from an Austrian Jewish pharmacist who lived there as a child refugee with his family who were persecuted by Nazis.
The town’s mayor confirmed that Eric Schwam, who died last month aged 90, had left a “large amount” of money to the village – reportedly in the region of 2 million euro. Schwam had arrived in Le Chambon as a child in 1943 with his parents and grandparents fleeing Nazi persecution in their native Vienna. The village famously sheltered thousands of Jews during the Holocaust period, a very risky act of solidarity at the time.
According to local media, Schwam was eager to not attract major attention for his large donation. After the war ended, he returned to Vienna with his parents but moved to the French city of Lyon in 1950 to study pharmacy. It was there he met his wife and lived the remainder of his life. At the time of his death last month, he was a widower with no children. The town’s mayor says his generous donation will be spent on education and youth facilities.
Thanks to the courageous efforts of a local pastor and his wife, Le Chambon became a safe haven for Jews and other persecuted groups during the rule of France by the Nazis and their local Vichy collaborators.
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Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...
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