(JTA) — A French Holocaust survivor has donated $1 million for relief programs for U.S. veterans to thank American troops for saving his life during World War II.
Bernard Darty, 83, announced over the weekend that he would donate the money to the Wounded Warrior Project and the Services for Armed Forces program of the American Red Cross to help the vets, especially those affected by the recent devastating hurricanes that hit the United States.
Darty’s family moved from Poland to France in 1939 to escape the Nazis. In 1942 his father went into hiding, but his mother was arrested during a roundup of Jews and sent to Auschwitz, where she died. For the next two years he was hidden by families living on the outskirts of Paris, as were his siblings and his future wife, Paulette.
“I vividly remember the arrival of the hundreds of thousands of American troops who landed in Normandy to liberate us in June 1944,” Darty wrote in a personal essay published on the Fox News website announcing his donations. “They were our saviors, doling out packets of sweets to half-starved, war-weary children who had almost given up hope for freedom.
“The gratitude I feel to these men is beyond words. They freed our country and they saved our lives. Without American troops, my family and I simply would not have existed. I think of that every time I look at our family photos.”
Darty is a co-founder of the Darty Group, an electrical retailer operating more than 340 stores in several European countries and in the United States. He is retired and lives in Paris, but winters in Miami Beach, Florida.
Darty acknowledged that his gift comes more than 70 years since he was rescued.
“It’s not too late to give back. That’s a lesson I hope the next generation recognizes, because it’s all too easy to let procrastination give way to inaction. But action is what brings hope to those who need it,” he wrote.
“A I watched news stories this fall of hurricanes, flooding and wildfires striking America, inflicting suffering among civilians and veterans alike, I realized that I still had an important task left to complete in my life. I had not yet given back to the American soldiers who saved my life nearly three-quarters of a century ago.”