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Former German prisoner of war donates estate to 'kind' Scottish village

A former Nazi prisoner of war has left his entire life savings to a small Scottish village where he was held captive. Wanting to thank the Scots for their kindness, his legacy fund aims to help the town's elderly.

The Scottish village of Comrie in Perthshire received a gift of 384,000 pounds ($489,000, 458,000 euros) from a German soldier who was held at a prisoner of war camp nearby, according to the village and media reports on Saturday.

Heinrich Steinmeyer, a former Waffen 22 soldier, left his entire estate to the village. He was captured in France and held at a camp near Comrie where he received a surprisingly warm welcome.

"Throughout his captivity, Heinrich Steinmeyer was very struck by the kindness shown to him by Scottish people, which he had not expected," said Andrew Reid of the Comrie Development Trust, which will administer the legacy fund.

Steinmeyer stayed in the village for a time after the war and returned frequently to visit, making many friends, Reid said.

"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," Steinmeyer said in his will, as cited by the Comrie Development Trust.

He died in 2013 at the age of 90, shortly following the death of George Carson, a close friend he made in the village.

Carson's son, also named George, recalled how his mother and her friends befriended Steinmeyer through the camp fence - even sneaking him out once.

"They discovered that Heinrich had never seen a moving picture, so," dressing him in a school uniform, "they smuggled him out of the camp through the chain-link fence and into the cinema where he saw his very first film... He was absolutely blown away by the whole experience," Carson told BBC Radio 4 on Saturday.

It took years for the estate to be settled following a lengthy legal process in Germany.

The money from the sale of his house and possessions is to be spent on services for the elderly in the Comrie area.

rs/rc (AP, AFP, dpa)