When Erich Schwam passed away in December, his will had an unusual specification: hundreds of thousands of Euros were to be sent to the small southern French village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon.
Schwam and his parents were Jewish refugees from Austria who were given shelter in Le Chambon, which took in Jews, mostly children, from the Rivesaltes internment camp, which was set up by the Vichy government in France to house Jews until they were sent to death camps.
Led by a heroic Christian minster, the town hid Jewish refugees in farms and homes, and forged identity cards and food ration cards for them. The citizens of the town would refuse to point out which of the hundreds of orphaned children in its schools were Jewish to Vichy officials who wanted lists of names.
Schwam wrote he set aside the money “to thank them [the village residents] for the welcome many extended me” and that it should be used to fund scholarships, healthcare workers, and help cancer patients.
Yad Vashem awarded the town the title of Righteous Among Nations in 1990, ABC 7 reported.