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Nazi PoW to leave estate to town

28 September 09 14:38 GMT

A former Nazi soldier who was held at a prisoner of war camp in Perthshire during World War II plans to leave his life savings to the people of the town.

Heinrich Steinmeyer, 84, has bequeathed about £110,000 to Comrie for what he says was the kindness he was shown while he was a prisoner there.

Mr Steinmeyer was held at Cultybraggan along with about 4,000 other prisoners.

Hitler's deputy Rudolph Hess also spent a night there after parachuting into Scotland in 1941.

Mr Steinmeyer, who now lives in Delmenhorst, near the German city of Bremen, was captured in Caen, in northern France, in 1944 and transported to the camp at Comrie.

After his release at the end of the war, he found work on a farm in the town and lived there before returning to Germany seven years later.

He has instructed the executors of his estate to ensure his life savings are spent helping the elderly community of the town.

'Welcoming place'

He has written to Comrie resident George Carson over the years, whose sister also helped the prisoners at Cultybraggan.

Mr Carson said of Mr Steinmeyer: "He was a dyed in the wool Nazi and once thought that Hitler was the finest thing ever to happen to Germany.

"He was captured and taken to Comrie and eventually was allowed to work and was treated with great kindness by people.

"Possibly the people felt that if they were kind to the German prisoners, somebody in Germany might be kind to their own who were in similar circumstances in Germany."

Joan Carmichael, who works for the Comrie Foundation, a charity dedicated to improving the town, said the money would make a difference.

"It's a very caring village and it's just amazing that acts of kindness from 60 years ago can have an impact all these years later.

"People in the village are aware that Mr Steinmeyer has decided to leave his legacy to the older folk.

"It's unusual for someone to be so kind but Comrie is an extremely welcoming place where everyone is very interested in each other."

The Comrie Development Trust purchased Cultybraggan from the MoD in 2007 with the aim of turning it into a community resource.

Since then the former camp has been transformed into a series of allotments with plans to develop the site further.

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