A German soldier left his estate to a Scottish the village of Comrie, Perthshire and is to have his cremation ashes scattered there where he was a prisoner of war camp during WWII.
Heinrich Steinmeyer was a soldier in the Wafhen SS and was captured fighting to defend a bridge in Caen, Normandy. Mr Steinmeyer joined the Nazis in 1941 at the age of 17, and fought in the 12th Panzer Division, a fanatical division with links to war crimes.
After being captured he was taken to the prison camp called Cultybraggan, in Scotland, infamous for housing Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess and for when one of detainees was hanged by fellow inmates after being accused of leaking an escape plot.
Now 84 and living in Delmenhorst, near Bremen, Mr Steinmeyer said:
‘I always wanted to repay the generosity they showed me. 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 to the fighting. The whole place was so beautiful. It went straight to my heart, and I thought “why have I been fighting this bloody war?”.
‘They were tough, but always fair. I didn’t expect to find this attitude – I was not just the enemy, but a Nazi.
‘Such friendliness was a surprise, but it is in the British nature. It was so much better than being told to lie in a filthy foxhole – and to die there.’
After the war Mr Steinmeyer known locally as ‘Heinz’ decided to stay in Scotland upon learning that his home town had become a part of Poland. He was amazed by the kindness of villagers, even though he made no secret of his Nazi past. He stayed in Scotland for seven years as a civilian, working in civil engineering.
Mr Steinmeyer has pledged to leave his home and life savings of £430,000 to elderly residents in the village of Comrie, Perthshire, as a gesture of gratitude.
Nothing to add really, apart from: am I contributing to this country’s fixation on the war? Still it is a good news story and there aren’t enough of those broadcast.