Kaplinsky’s ‘grim secrets’
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