My late boyfriend's mother was from Poland. Her family was quite wealthy but during the onslot by the Germans times got tough. She remembered having to steal potatoes out of the neighbor's fields to survive. That was a big fall from grace and she was never the same. She scraped and plotted her way to America.
She married a German soldier who was just back from Africa. Together they forged a new life in this country for their little boy. It was not easy to settle in Illinois and she became tight and mean. They brought her mother with them to America and she was the only one of the family who was nice to my friend. She cooked all the wonderful Polish dishes that he grew to love and she soothed him over the rough spots.
His mother made him wear lederhosen to third grade on his first day to school. All the other kids made fun of him but she didn't want to hear about it. When he brought home a report card with all As except a B in English she was furious. She didn't stop to consider that he hadn't known a word of English when he started third grade in America.
She began to work in a lens factory and her husband got a job in a factory too that soon went out of business because of union demands. My friend grew up looking for love in all the wrong places and America made him rich because he had nothing to lose. His greed and opulence knew no bounds but soon he crashed and burned.
America was the hope for many immigrants. They thought riches equaled success and happiness. America with all its material wealth didn't offer the one thing the immigrants didn't realize they already had. Family love.