Published On: Sun, Jan 31st, 2021

Austrian Holocaust Survivor Leaves More Than $2 Million to French Village Which Saved His Life

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon famous saved thousands of Jews.
Eric Schwam, who arrived in Chambon-sur-Lignon in February 1943, is believed to have left around two million euros to the village in southeast France
photo source and credit Lacommers43

Eric Schwam was an Austrian Holocaust survivor who died last December at the age of 90. In his will Schwam left 2 million Euros ($2.4 million) to the little French town which saved his life by granting him shelter during World War II.

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a small mountain village in Southeastern France which today has a population of a little more than 2,400 people. It had a predominantly Protestant Huguenot population at the time that Germany began its occupation of France.

The local Protestant minister Pastor André Trocmé, and his deputy pastor Edouard Theis led the villagers in the rescue of Jews and hid them in their homes. They also helped Jews hide in the forest or escape to Switzerland at great risk to their own safety.

The Pont-de-Mars Castle in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon – Wikipedia

In 1943 a thirteen year old Eric Schwam arrived in the town with his family. They were saved from the Holocaust by the townspeople who hid them in a school until after the war.

The town is estimated to have saved about 2,500 Jews from the Germans during the Holocaust. Chambon-sur-Lignon and its people were honored by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center as “Righteous Among the Nations.”

A commemorative plaque of the rescue of Jews during their WWII persecution is affixed on the village school of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon

According to CNN Schwam’s father was a doctor and his mother helped establish a library at the Rivesaltes camp, one of many set up by the Vichy regime to imprison Jews.

“It’s a large amount for the village,” Mayor Jean-Michel Eyraud told AFP. Eyraud said Schwam asked that the money be used for educational and youth initiatives, in particular scholarships.

“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. “We did not know Mr. Schwam, we are now trying to establish who he was and what happened to him here,” said Vallat.

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