A secret hero in Germany

Someone has been leaving envelopes of $13,000 in various locations like a church and soup kitchen in the town of Braunschweig, Germany.

• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

 The Hospice Am Hohen Tore in Braunschweig is an unusually cheerful place these days.

“Maybe it’s a kind of Robin Hood,” says Michael Knobel, the manager. “Or someone with no family who wants to give something back to society – that would be the romantic interpretation.”

Mr. Knobel is engaged in a game that all of Braunschweig is currently playing: Guess who? “Who” has for several weeks been placing envelopes containing €10,000 (more than $13,000) each at various places around town. A church, a kindergarten, and a soup kitchen have all received the unmarked envelopes filled with 500-euro notes. In all, €200,000, or close to $260,000, has been given away.

In some instances, a clipping from Braunschweiger Zeitung, the local newspaper, referring to the recipient accompanies the money. “Of course, this is great for us as well,” says Henning Noske, who edits the local news at Braunschweiger Zeitung. “People love mystery, secrecy, fairy tales. They love to read about it, and we can give it to them.” The fact that he now receives dozens of e-mails with requests by organizations and individuals to be reported on is a small price to pay, he adds.

Donating is less established in Germany than it is in the United States. People pay high taxes and in return expect the state to spend money on welfare, culture, and other causes.

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