Kaplin­sky’s ‘grim se­crets’

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY LAURA STADLER

BBC NEWS pre­sen­ter and Strictly Come Danc­ing win­ner Natasha Kaplin­sky has told a Lon­don au­di­ence of her shock at dis­cov­er­ing the “grim se­crets” of fam­ily mem­bers’ deaths in the Holo­caust.

In an emo­tional ad­dress to the Anne Frank Trust’s HMD lunch in Cen­tral Lon­don on Mon­day, Ms Kaplin­sky said her in­volve­ment was timely, given that she had only fin­ished film­ing the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? pro­gramme the pre­vi­ous evening. The show is an ex­plo­ration of her roots and had taken her to Be­larus to trace her fa­ther’s Jewish an­ces­tors.

She had been dev­as­tated to dis­cover that “all save one of my fa­ther’s fam­ily had suf­fered un­speak­able deaths dur­ing the Nazi oc­cu­pa­tion”.

Ms Kaplin­sky added that she could not have ap­pre­ci­ated “how deeply this would af­fect me... Learn­ing what has hap­pened to my own fam­ily has strength­ened my re­solve to chal­lenge prej­u­dice and ha­tred wher­ever it ap­pears.”

En­ter­ing the racism and bul­ly­ing de­bate over Celebrity Big Brother, she con­demned dis­graced con­tes­tant Jade Goody for “an ap­palling dis­play of ig­no­rance”.

Sup­port­ing the work of the Anne Frank Trust, she ob­served that “turn­ing so­ci­ety round is not an easy task. It re­quires young peo­ple to make a com­mit­ment and strive to the best of their abil­i­ties, even if it means swim­ming against the tide.”

Four teenagers re­counted har­row­ing ex­am­ples of vic­tim­i­sa­tion and re­li­gious abuse, among them a 13-year-old North Lon­don girl who was set upon by a group of black and Asian youths on a bus in Colin­dale in Au­gust for be­ing Jewish. She told the 620 guests that she had been punched and fell to the floor. “The next thing I re­mem­ber is the sound of knuck­les near my ear and then wak­ing up on the floor with a foot on my face. One of the girls stood on the back seat and jumped off it on to my face and chest.” No pas­sen­gers came to her aid.

“I feel that I have had all my con­fi­dence beaten out of me,” she con­fided.

Natasha Kaplin­sky with Anne Frank Trust di­rec­tor Gil­lian Walnes

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