I had a busy day. I am in the process of selling a small piece of property my wife and I own in Malibu right across the street from the house we own in Malibu.
As I settled in to sign a mountain of escrow documents, I started to get a torrent of emails and photos.
To make the story short, they were from my pal Jane Heyman. She’s a daughter of Holocaust survivors from Germany. She is about a decade younger than I am, is a mother of a lovely 23-year-old daughter, and is herself an accomplished graphic artist.
Her father’s family had been murdered by the Nazis in or near Frankfurt. He had survived because his family had sent him off as a teenager to be an accountant at a tin mine in Bolivia.
When he came back, he was the only member of his family left alive on this earth. He went to a Displaced Persons camp and lived a quiet life there until he met another survivor. His name was Erich Heyman and his soon-to-be wife was Claire.
They were both from Frankfurt, and their families had lived in Germany for centuries. Her family, except for one sister, had also been murdered by the Nazis. She had survived by being a slave laborer at a munitions factory on the grounds of Auschwitz, probably as blood-curdling a word as there is in any language. She had started at dawn to do slave labor to dusk working on making shells for the Wehrmacht. She did this for five years until she was barely alive.
One tooth. Emaciated. Growth stunted.
But sharp as a tack in the head.
She and Erich were married and moved to Queens, New York, where she worked as a hairdresser and he worked as an accountant. By strict discipline and hard work, they eked out a middle-class lifestyle. They had three beautiful daughters, of which my pal, Jane, is the middle one by age. Jane has a stunning daughter, Liz, who is engaged to be married soon.
Since most of Jane’s family is still in the East, she went there looking for wedding sites and also for the marriage of a nephew. She sent me photos of her mother in a lovely wedding dress with Lady Liberty in the background, and my eyes filled with tears.
From a death camp to a wedding cruise on a majestic boat around the island of Manhattan. Erich is long deceased, but he is surely there in spirit.
In Claire’s beaming but still somehow sad smile as she embraced her daughter and granddaughter . . . That’s where he is. This is America, where you can go from a death camp to a silk wedding dress. Where you go from death camp to meaning, as the saying goes. This is America, the magnificently beautiful in every single way. This is America, God’s heavenly spirit on this earth.
I was deeply moved. And I thought, what are the politicians talking about, ranting and raving about how terrible things are in America? This is still the greatest place on earth. It is better if you’re rich, better if you’re well educated, but the opportunity for everyone is there.
To watch and listen to the Democrats debate, you would think we were not unlike Nazi Germany, a land of brutal, state-imposed racism. How crazy can you get? This is America the brave and the free. This is where most of the people on the planet would like to live if they could, and to get here unimaginable hardships are undertaken.
To read Ben Stein's full article, please visit The American Spectator.
Ben Stein is a writer, an actor, and a lawyer who served as a speechwriter in the Nixon administration as the Watergate scandal unfolded. He began his unlikely road to stardom when director John Hughes as the numbingly dull economics teacher in the urban comedy, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Read more more reports from Ben Stein — Click Here Now.
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