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Goerlitz guards donor riddle

Friday, May 02, 2014 - 02:07

May 2 - The mystery of the secret donor: every year for two decades, the people of Goerlitz scratch their heads over who the anonymous philanthropist is that sends them half a million euros by bank transfer. David Pollard reports.

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It's Germany's eastern-most town, with a thousand years of history behind it. And on the other side of its parapets and facades, it guards a secret it's never to reveal. Who is the mystery donor ... ? Every year, Goerlitz receives an anonymous gift of half a million euros. With two conditions: the money is to be used to preserve and renovate the town's picture-perfect looks. And: the riddle of the donor must remain a riddle. Hartmut Wilke is the head of the town's architecture department. SOUNDBITE (German) GOERLITZ HEAD OF DEPARTMENT OF ARCHITECTURE, HARTMUT WILKE, SAYING: "Each spring we receive a transfer of 500,000 euros. A group consisting of five people decide how to divide the money between the owners of the buildings. If that has been decided, the building owners can go ahead and use that money for repairs and maintenance. And so step by step the city keeps looking more lovely than before, as we have seen over the last 20 years." Even if the locals knew, they probably wouldn't tell. The town's restoration bill runs into millions to keep its baroque and renaissance treasures alive for modern-day visitors. The secret cash is sent by a Munich law firm - transferred to the town's accountants each Spring. Nadia Stoykow is one of those who know it's best not to ask too much. SOUNDBITE (German) GOERLITZ RESIDENT, NADIA STOYKOW, SAYING: ''I don't know who he is. But I think he has fallen in love with the city some years ago and that he has been visiting here from time to time in order to have a look around at the things that have been done." What she does know is that the town owes him - or her - or them - a debt. SOUNDBITE (German) GOERLITZ RESIDENT, NADIA STOYKOW, SAYING: "I think he is great. What he did is amazing. I want to thank him very much for donating money to the monuments and buildings.'' The mystery money's been coming for two decades now. Will it come for another two? Like the identity of the donor, that's a question without an answer.

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Goerlitz guards donor riddle

Friday, May 02, 2014 - 02:07