The first envelope carrying 20 €500 notes arrived at a crime victims’ aid group in Braunschweig in November, shortly after the Braunschweiger Zeitung carried a story about a woman who was left traumatised when her handbag was stolen.
Not long afterwards another €10,000 was left each for a kindergarten, a church community and local soup kitchens, Der Spiegel reported on Friday.
There was never any clue as to the generous donor, just a white envelope full of cash. “And there was often an article from our paper with it,” said Henning Noske, editor of the Braunschweiger Zeitung's local pages.
One envelope even found its way to the paper’s offices – a bundle of €500 notes was delivered on February 1 with an article from the paper about a 14-year-old called Tom who had been left seriously injured by a swimming accident seven years before. The story had detailed the problems he and his family had coping with his disabilities.
Whether the donor is a wealthy person who has not long to live, or is a modern Robin Hood who is determined to do good with ill-gotten gains, one can only guess, said Noske.
“We simply don’t know,” he told Spiegel, adding that the paper had made a decision not to try to find out.
But the paper is now being inundated with requests from people and groups asking for stories to be written about them in the hope of attracting the anonymous donor’s sympathy.
“But that doesn’t work with us. We will not allow ourselves to be used – we always act according to the press code,” said Nosek.
The last envelope was sent to Armin Kraft last weekend. The town’s official representative works against child poverty, and has vowed to use the €10,000 to support family mentoring.
But no further envelope has been received since then. “Perhaps there is no money left,” suggested Noske.