The most unforgettable and fervent moment for me this century was the morning of Jan. 1, 1939, sailing into New York Harbor at age 15 on a small Dutch ship and hearing the announcement over the public address system that we were about to pass the Statue of Liberty.
My parents and I dashed to the upper deck. There, sheltered by a delicate mist, we beheld the symbol of freedom and liberation.
I still see my parents holding hands, my mother’s arm hugging my waist, her eyes tearful.
After years of torment and suffering under the clutches of Hitler and religious persecution, finally being allowed to gain entry into this land of freedom was and always will be the celebration of my life.
My father had just been released from jail by the Gestapo. His only crime was being a Jew.
Our family had been in Germany since 1670. My father had won the Iron Cross in World War I as a 16-year-old heavy machine gunner in the German army. That helped for the time being and probably helped my grandmother stay alive during the war.
On August 28, 1939, we fled to Holland and boarded the liner Veendam for America, my dad, mother, sister and I. I was 4 years old. We left my grandmother, age 90, aunts, uncles and many cousins behind. Only my grandmother and one cousin survived the German death camps.
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