WWII German POW leaves nearly £400k to ‘kind’ village of Comrie

Heinrich Steinmeyer in his SS uniform. Picture: SWNS
Heinrich Steinmeyer in his SS uniform. Picture: SWNS
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A former German prisoner of war has left nearly £400,000 to a small Scottish village for the kindness shown to him during his captivity.

Heinrich Steinmeyer, a former Waffen SS soldier during World War Two, was captured in France when he was 19-years-old and was held in the PoW camp at Cultybraggan near the village of Comrie, Perthshire.

Heinrich Steinmeyer in 2009. Picture: SWNS

Heinrich Steinmeyer in 2009. Picture: SWNS

Mr Steinmeyer died in 2013, aged 90, a fortnight after the death of George Carson, a close friend he had made in the village and visited regularly.

Two years later, his wish to leave £384,000 to the village has been recognised and has been gifted to the village’s local community trust and will be spent on local development for the elderly in the area.

The Courier newspaper said part of Mr Steinmeyer’s will reads: “I would like to express my gratitude to the people of Scotland for the kindness and generosity that I have experienced in Scotland during my imprisonment of war and hereafter”.

Mr Carson’s son, who is also called George, spoke of his memories of the charitable soldier.

Comrie in Perthshire where 19-year-old Heinrich Steinmeyer was held as a POW. Picture: SWNS

Comrie in Perthshire where 19-year-old Heinrich Steinmeyer was held as a POW. Picture: SWNS

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It sounds like an unbelievable story but it’s absolutely true.

• READ MORE: Interview: Heinrich Steinmeyer, former POW

“My mother and her friends, all school children at Morrison’s Academy in Crieff, made friends with Henrich through the fence of the Cultybraggan camp.

“I’m not quite sure how they communicated but during these conversations they discovered that Henrich had never seen a moving picture, so they went up with their push bikes one morning and one of the girls had taken her brother’s school uniform and they smuggled him out of the camp through the chainlink fence and into the cinema where he saw his very first film and he was absolutely blown away by the whole experience.

“I met him a couple of times and he was a wonderful man.

“He had meetings with the Comrie Development Trust in 2008 and asked them to manage his estate on his death.

“He was quite specific in his will that the money should only be used on the elderly in the village.

“This is his thanks for the kindness shown to him at the point of his life where he was at his lowest and he just wants to say thank you to everybody.”

The money has now been transferred to a Henrich Steinmeyer Legacy Fund and a consultation process will start to find out how the legacy should be spent.