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 $1 million to the Wounded Warrior Project and the Services for Armed Forces program of the American Red Cross to help U.S. military veterans, especially those affected by the recent devastating hurricanes that hit areas of 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. They were our saviors, doling out packets of sweets to half-starved, war-weary children who had almost given up hope for freedom,” Darty wrote in a personal essay published on the Fox News website announcing his donations. “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,” he also wrote.
He acknowledged that his gift comes a bit late, 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. “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.”
Darty is a retiree who lives in Paris but winters in Miami Beach, Florida. He is co-founder of Darty Group, an electrical retailer operating more than 340 stores in several European countries and in the United States.