Austrian man leaves fortune to French village that saved his family from Nazis

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon in February 2016

(CNN)An Austrian man who died in December has left an undisclosed fortune to the French village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon to thank residents for hiding his family from Nazis during World War II.

Erich Schwam, a Jewish refugee who arrived in the village with his mother and father in 1943, bequeathed a sum thought to be at least a few hundred thousand euro to the commune in south-central France, according to the notary in charge of his will.
    "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 on Saturday.
    In the will, dated November 9, 2020, Schwam wrote that he wanted "to thank them [the village residents] for the welcome many extended me in the field of education." He asked for the money to be used to fund scholarships and schools in the village.
    Large contributions will also be made to three foundations supporting health workers, children with leukemia and animal rights, according to a press release from the town hall.
    Le Chambon and nearby villages welcomed Jewish refugees, mostly children, after 1940, according to the town hall website. Barack Obama mentioned the village in his remarks at the Holocaust Days of Remembrance Ceremony in April 2009 and Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, awarded the commune the title of Righteous in 1990.