Scarlett Johansson learns of family Holocaust tragedy from genealogy show

In forthcoming episode of ‘Finding Your Roots,’ US Jewish actress tearfully finds out her great uncle and his family perished in the Warsaw Ghetto

In the forthcoming episode of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots,” American Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson discovers the tragic fate of her relatives who died in the Holocaust.

Johansson is overcome by emotion when she learns for the first time that her great uncle died in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Nazi occupation of Poland.

“I mean, you really couldn’t imagine the horror. It’s just so crazy to imagine,” she says tearfully in a trailer for the episode obtained by People magazine.

Johansson’s grandfather left Poland for the United States, where he worked as a grocer in New York.

The PBS show used documentation from Yad Vashem to determine that his brother and family died in the ghetto.

“Wow, that’s sad,” she says, visibly overcome with emotion. “And I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. But it’s hard not to.”

“It’s crazy to imagine that Saul would be on the other side selling bananas on Ludlow Street. And how different it would be being in America at that time,” the 32-year-old actress says. “The fate of one brother versus the other.”

Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto are led by German soldiers to an assembly point for deportation to death camps, 1943. (photo credit: public domain)
Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto are led by German soldiers to an assembly point for deportation to death camps, 1943. (Public domain)

Johansson says the experience has led her to feel more connected to her roots.

“It makes me feel more deeply connected to that side of myself, that side of my family. I didn’t expect that,” she says.

Johansson’s episode is to air on Tuesday, October 31, on PBS.

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