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An Austrian man leaves his wealth of will to a French village that hid his family from the Nazis

An Austrian man leaves his wealth of will to a French village that hid his family from the Nazis

Eric Schuam, a Jewish refugee who arrived in the village with his mother and father in 1943, left an amount believed to be at least a few hundred thousand euros for the municipality in south-central France, according to the notary in charge of his will.

“We are very proud and we will use the amount according to Mr. Schuam’s will,” the city’s deputy mayor, Denis Vallat, told CNN on Saturday.

In the will, dated November 9, 2020, Shawam wrote that he wanted to “thank them [the village residents] To welcome many civilians to the field of education. ”He asked for money to be used to fund scholarships and schools in the village.

Significant contributions will also be made to three foundations that support health workers, children with leukemia, and animal rights, according to a City Hall press release.

Le Chambon and surrounding villages welcomed Jewish refugees, most of them children, after 1940, according to the city council website. Barack Obama referred to the village in his remarks at the Holocaust remembrance ceremony in April 2009, and Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, awarded the municipality the righteous title in 1990.

Schwam’s father was a physician and his mother helped set up a library at Camp Rivesalt, one of many established by the Vichy Jewish Prison System. Thousands were transferred from there to Auschwitz, according to The Jewish Virtual Library.

Friedel Reiter, a young Swiss social worker who voluntarily helped refugees at the time, recorded family information and possibly helped transport them to Le Chambon when the Rivesaltes camp closed in 1942, city council said.

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When he was only 12 years old, Shuam was transferred to the care of Secours Suisse, a subsector of the Swiss Red Cross that specializes in helping children during war, where his mother also worked. Shoam enrolled in a pharmacy course at Lyon University in 1950 and graduated in 1957.

The city council is unsure whether he returns to Le Chambon regularly and asks for more information about the “young Viennese Jewish boy” who has been so generous after more than 75 years.

“We did not know Mr. Shawam, we are now trying to determine who he is and what happened to him here,” Valat said.

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