Tonight, viewers will be glued to BBC One documentary My Family, the Holocaust and Me with Robert Rinder. Tonight’s show was the first of two, with the series continuing next Monday at 9pm.
In episode two Robert meets Noemie Lopian, whose French mother was arrested as a child by the Nazis.
Noemie wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps to truly understand what happened and how her mother survived. In an extraordinary scene she meets the grandson of the man who hid her mother and her mother’s siblings in a chicken shed in his garden during round-ups of Jews in the town of Saint-Junien in France.
As she traces her mother’s journey as she tried to flee France, to the border between France and Switzerland, Noemie learns how her mother and the group of children she was with were discovered and arrested by the Nazis. Noemie also learns of the incredible sacrifice and courage of a young female French Resistance fighter who saved her mother’s life.
Bernie Graham continues his journey. Having discovered the fate of his grandparents in episode one, Bernie is desperate to know what happened to his uncle Bernhard, after whom he is named, and who he believes committed suicide in Dachau concentration camp. To unravel what happened to his uncle, Bernie travels to Dachau, where he finds out that his uncle fell ill and died after a horrendous journey there. Despite the dark truths that Bernie uncovers, he hopes that we learn from these terrible events: “The monster is hatred. Hatred of anybody.”
As well as his paternal side, Robert’s maternal family were also impacted by the Holocaust, and he knows that his Polish grandfather’s parents and siblings died in Treblinka death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Now Robert travels with his mother Angela to Treblinka, to discover how Angela’s grandparents, his great-grandparents, and her aunts and uncle, his great-aunts and great-uncle, were murdered. There they meet the last survivor of Treblinka, 92 year-old Leon Rytz, who tells his harrowing story. Movingly, the three of them say Kaddish together, the Jewish prayer of remembrance for those who have died.
Catch up via BBC iPlayer.