Holocaust Survivor's Widow Commits $22 Million to Cologne Zoo

Holocaust Survivor's Widow Commits $22 Million to Cologne Zoo

The widow of a Holocaust survivor in New Jersey has pledged €18.5 million ($22 million) to a zoo in the couple's hometown of Cologne, Germany, ABC News and Deutsche Welle report.

Elizabeth Reichert told a German newspaper that it was the wish of her late husband, Arnulf, who died in 1998, to donate the money to the Cologne Zoo. Reichert and the zoo are setting up a foundation that will manage the funds after her death and disburse about €1 million ($1.2 million) annually; she had already been sending monthly donations of €6,000 ($7,141) to the zoo. With the funds, the zoo plans to build a new South American pavilion to be named in Arnulf Reichert's honor. The Reicherts were longtime supporters of the zoo, starting with the gift of a softshell turtle from the Jordan River in 1954.

The couple met during World War II, when Arnulf was in hiding from the Nazis and Elizabeth was working with the resistance. After the war ended, they moved first to Israel and then the United States, where Arnulf took a job in a large pet and pet food business and later started his own business. Because they had no children, they decided to give back to the city where their relationship began — and that never left their hearts.

"Arnulf wanted to give the money someplace where it would do good," said Reichert. "When you think about leaving money, memories play a major role."