Money reclaimed from estate seized by Nazis donated to N.S. hospice
Published Tuesday, June 17, 2014 12:21PM ADT
The Colchester East Hants Hospice Society has a new home, made possible by two major donations – one of which was money reclaimed from a family estate seized by the Nazis in the late 1930s.
The first donation came from Joanne Venner, a prominent resident of Truro who left her home to the society.The money from the sale of her home allowed the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society to move to a new location.
The second donation came from Nellie Traxler, who left half of her estate to the society.
Traxler’s family owned two textile factories and a mansion in Germany but in 1938, it was all confiscated by the Nazis.
Traxler was in Switzerland at the time and crossed enemy lines to escape with her mother and brother.
“Honestly, I can see those SS soldiers just snapping to attention as she went by,” says her lawyer, Lorne MacDougall. “She was that fierce.”
Traxler’s mother, Marta Bumova, settled in Montreal while her brother moved to Truro and started a textile company. Traxler visited on occasion but spent most of her life in Switzerland.
She eventually moved to Truro for what would be the last 10 years of her life.
MacDougall says Traxler fought for a settlement with the German government for 50 years.
“They were up against the wrong person,” he says. “She lived to be 107 and I think she’d still be living if she didn’t have that settled.”
Traxler did win her case in the end and collected about $6 million from the government.
“She wanted whatever she had to be used in memory of her mother,” says MacDougall.
She left it up to MacDougall to decide which charities would benefit from the donations.
“The gift at the end was $4 million – 50 per cent of which went to Mother Theresa and 50 per cent was then bequested to us,” says Janet Whelan of the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society.
The society will celebrate its grand opening Wednesday.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster