From the office: A tale of two Jewish sisters

By Deputy Editor, 20 August 2015 - 1:01pm

In Jane Seymour's episode, she tries to find out what happened to two of her Jewish great aunts during the Second World War. It's a harrowing tale that'll have you on the edge of your seat, says Claire Vaughan

Claire Vaughan is acting editor at Who Do You Think You Are? MagazineThursday 20 August 2015
Claire Vaughan, Acting Editor
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Jane Seymour's family members

Many of Jane Seymour's family members faced persecution during the Second World War

Well, the first episode of the new series of Who Do You Think You Are? last Thursday went down very well here at WDYTYA? Magazine HQ – a great start to what promises to be a great series. And judging by the comments on Twitter and Facebook (including one from Paul himself), you all agree! If you missed it, watch it here, or you can visit our website for details and unseen footage.

We’re all looking forward to Jane Seymour’s episode tonight. It’s a powerful reminder of the horrific impact that the Second World War had on the ordinary people of Europe – in particular the Jews – not only during the war, but in the period after, when people were trying to reconnect with their loved ones and get back to some sort of normality. Of course, many never did. It’s simply unthinkable today.

I interviewed Jane for a feature in the magazine and she told me how she felt about exploring this deeply troubling aspect of her paternal family history. “It was hard to stop crying. Just really harrowing,” she said. “I could vividly imagine – being in the places, and seeing the actual documents – exactly what happened and, specifically, what happened to my relatives.”

I also spoke to Alice Fraser the researcher and Sue Hills the director of Jane's episode and they had some fascinating insights into researching and putting together a story of this nature. “We knew that two of Jane’s great aunts were living in Nazi-occupied Europe when the Second World War broke out – one in Warsaw and one in Paris – and we knew they’d both survived the war.” Alice told me. “So this posed the question of how does someone Jewish live through Nazi occupation and survive?” 

Jane explained that if it hadn’t been for an event in her grandfather’s life, she might have not been here to tell the tale, and that “it was life-changing to realise that, but for the grace of God, me and my children could have walked the same path as my father's family". See the feature in the October issue of WDYTYA? Magazine to find out more, plus how to research your Jewish ancestors.

Join us for Jane’s brilliant episode tonight at 9pm on BBC1. We’ll be on Twitter and Facebook or you can share your opinions on our forum.

 

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