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Incoming congressman’s claims his grandparents fled the Holocaust contradicted by family tree information | CNN Politics

Incoming congressman's claims his grandparents fled the Holocaust contradicted by family tree information | CNN Politics


Claims by incoming Republican Rep. George Santos that his grandparents “survived the Holocaust” as Ukrainian Jewish refugees from Belgium who modified their surname to outlive are contradicted by sources reviewed by CNN’s KFile together with household timber compiled by family tree web sites, information on Jewish refugees and interviews with a number of genealogists.

Santos, who has referred to as himself “half Jewish” and a “Latino Jew” in media appearances, has claimed his maternal grandfather was initially from Ukraine and fled to Brazil to flee Nazism. In one other telling, the New York Republican stated his grandparents transformed to Catholicism throughout the rise of Nazism in Belgium after fleeing Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. In one other telling, he claimed his household modified their identify to outlive Nazism.

CNN spoke to a number of genealogists who stated there was no proof of the claims. Santos’ misrepresentations of his household historical past have been first reported by The Ahead on Wednesday. Information from the Holocaust Museum and the Worldwide Heart on Nazi Persecution, which include information on Jewish refugees, additionally present no point out of Santos’ grandparents.

Megan Smolenyak, an writer {and professional} genealogist who helped analysis Santos’ household tree at CNN’s request, stated in electronic mail, “There’s no signal of Jewish and/or Ukrainian heritage and no indication of identify adjustments alongside the best way.”

The incoming Republican lawmaker has confronted scrutiny over his resume since The New York Instances revealed on Monday that Santos’ biography seemed to be partly fictional. CNN confirmed particulars of The New York Instances reporting on Monday, together with that he could have misrepresented elements of his resume about his faculty schooling and employment historical past.

A lawyer for Santos declined to remark to CNN.

“I’m very happy with my Jewish heritage,” Santos stated in an look from late November 2022 with the Jewish Information Syndicate. “I’m very happy with my grandparents’ story. My grandfather fleeing, Ukraine, fleeing Stalin’s persecution, going to Belgium, discovering refuge there, marrying my grandmother, then fleeing Hitler going to Brazil. That’s a narrative of perseverance. I’m so proud. I imply, I want I might have met my grandfather.”

In one other interview from earlier this yr, Santos claimed that his grandparents survived the Holocaust.

“My grandparents survived the Holocaust, so these regimes of socialism, Marxism, they don’t work, and so they’re adopted up by lots of damage, and we’re seeing that presently and what’s occurring in Ukraine with the Russians,” Santos stated in a Could 2022 interview.

However household histories from the web sites MyHeritage and Geneanet and a Dutch periodical from the city the household emigrated from present his maternal grandparents, Paolo and Rosalina Devolder, have been each born in Brazil. Information on FamilySearch, first reported by The Ahead, additionally present Santos’ great-grandfather as residing in Brazil.

Whereas it’s doable that his maternal grandparents returned to Europe after which moved again to Brazil, there isn’t a proof to help this. And there’s no proof that the household have been Jewish refugees fleeing Europe.

Moreover, Santos’ ties to Ukraine have been solely added to his marketing campaign biography someday between April 2022 and October 2022, based on the Web Archive’s WayBack Machine. His bio now begins: “George’s grandparents fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and once more fled persecution throughout WWII.”

When the Ukraine-Russia battle started in February 2022, Santos advised Fox Information digital that his ties to Ukraine have been “very imprecise” and stated it could be “disingenuous” to assert his kin have been in danger. However he added that his household later modified their surname to outlive.

“It’s simply very imprecise and faint,” stated Santos’ of his ties to the nation. “We don’t carry the Ukrainian final identify. For lots of people who’re descendants of World Struggle II refugees or survivors of the Holocaust, lots of names and paperwork have been modified in identify of survival.”

However information dispute this assertion. The Devolder surname has been utilized by his mom’s household for generations, and the household has not modified it, based on household timber reviewed by the genealogists CNN spoke to.

Santos’ mom died in 2016, however her Fb posts embody Catholic prayers and posts concerning the Virgin Mary on Easter with no posts indicating Jewish heritage.

In a special look, Santos stated his mom’s grandfather’s household transformed to Catholicism throughout the rise of Nazism, although he specified he was not attempting to assert to Jewish heritage.

“My grandfather grew up Jewish. My grandfather, throughout the Soviet points, escaped to Belgium,” stated Santos. “After which that was an incredible transfer. Met my grandmother, married, and loopy sufficient, the Nazis turned a factor. And that’s when he stated, ‘Oh my God, that is another time.’ They transformed to Catholicism, had their youngsters, raised them Catholic. And I’m Catholic, however that’s just about little historical past of my household into Judaism.”



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