This series of the captivating genealogy show has uncovered some dark stories, but Robert Rinder’s may be one of the saddest journeys yet.
The Judge Rinder star heads to Poland to explore the early years of his maternal grandfather, Morris Malenicky (see below), whose family died in the Holocaust, and who spent time in concentration camps himself before starting a new life in the UK.
In Latvia, Robert examines the teenage traumas that may have sent his great-grandfather Israel Medalyer to a mental health facility.
Despite the tragic nature of his discoveries, Robert’s pride in and love for his family shines through.
‘I still have three grandparents alive and in their 90s – I’m so lucky – and I knew my grandfather Morris until he died when I was 23,’ says Robert.
‘We spent a lot of time together but he never sat down to tell us what happened. The Holocaust was an unforgettable shadow in the family as my grandfather would behave in eccentric and challenging ways because of what he’d been through. When he died we found in his drawers little handkerchiefs with food in them and a library of books about the Third Reich,’ he says.
‘Morris was sent to concentration camps and I visited the site of one in Schlieben, Germany. There was a biting cold and I could imagine my grandfather there in ragged clothing.
‘I met his friend Ben who had been with him there and it was incredible when he told me what my grandfather looked like when he first saw him. The most powerful moment was when Ben said to me, “Let’s walk out of here together.” That changed my life.’