Nazi PoW leaves his fortune to villagers

Former SS soldier leaves £400,000 to community where he was held captive
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The Independent Online

A former German prisoner of war plans to leave a six-figure fortune to the Scottish community where he was held captive by the British during the Second World War.

Heinrich Steinmeyer, 85, said he wanted to thank the village of Comrie in Perthshire for the kindness he was shown during his time in Cultybraggan Camp.

Reports have suggested the total donation may be as much as £400,000 but villagers said yesterday they had not had the amount confirmed.

Mr Steinmeyer was a member of the SS 12th Panzer Division [Hitler Youth] when he was captured of August 1944 near Caen in Normandy during the Allied invasion . He wants the money to be administered through a trust fund for elderly residents.

Speaking from his home near the northern German port of Bremen, he said: "I always wanted to pay something back. The people were very kind to us German PoWs. They did not treat us as the enemy. I had so many happy experiences in Scotland."

Speaking about his planned donation, he said: "I've always had it in my mind. I have no children and I live on my own. I came as a prisoner of war and I left as a friend."

Mr Steinmeyer said his house was worth about £110,000 and he had saved "some money". He was sent to the camp in Perthshire because he was a member of the feared Waffen SS.

Mr Steinmeyer stayed in Scotland after he was released from detention but left in 1956. "Next year I will fly to Comrie if I'm still alive," he added.

George Carson, who lives in Comrie and has known Mr Steinmeyer for seven years, said: "Originally it was his house which would go towards a trust to benefit the elderly people of Comrie. He contacted me about the house around 18 months ago."

Speaking about reports that the bequest could be up to £400,000, the 80-year-old added: "This is a new development but I cannot confirm the figures."

Mr Carson said he had agreed to scatter Mr Steinmeyer's ashes in the hills around the camp after he dies.

Mr Steinmeyer told The Aberdeen Press and Journal: "They deserve everything I have to give them and it is far better they have it than anyone else. Cultybraggan was a holiday camp compared with the fighting."

Speaking about his captors, Mr Steinmeyer said: "They were tough but always fair. I didn't expect to find this attitude."

Mr Steinmeyer told the paper he was won over by the kindness of the locals. He said: "Another time I wanted to go to a football game but I could not afford a ticket. It didn't matter to them and they told me to go on to the ground anyway."

Cultybraggan Camp – built in 1939 at the entrance to Glen Artney in Perth and Kinross – held about 4,000 German prisoners during the Second World War, according to the Ministry of Defence website. Once known as Nazi 2, it was one of only two maximum-security camps in Britain. It held prisoners classified as the most ardent Nazis and troublemakers, who would be most difficult to repatriate in the post-war period.

The site was bought for £350,000 by the Comrie Development Trust after villagers and members of the trust voted to purchase the site in August 2007.

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