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George Santos’ Claims His Grandparents Fled Holocaust Contradicted by Records

Republican representative-elect George Santos, whose recent election to Congress on Long Island helped Republicans cinch a narrow majority in the House in November, has become the latest target of political scrutiny for admitting in two separate interviews to lying about his work and education experience while on the campaign trail, including claims of having worked directly for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. 

However, it would appear that Santo’s fabricated biography doesn’t end there; according to an investigation by CNN’s KFile, the New York representative-elect’s claims that his grandparents fled the Holocaust–a story that has been told with a couple of brow-raising variations over the years–have been contradicted by Jewish genealogy records. 

Santos was no stranger to labeling himself “half Jewish” and a “Latino Jew” in various media appearances, and often used his Jewish heritage as a means of decrying “socialist” policies. 

“My grandparents survived the Holocaust, so these regimes of socialism, Marxism, they don’t work, and they’re followed up by a lot of hurt, and we’re seeing that currently and what’s happening in Ukraine with the Russians,” Santos said in a May interview. 

He first claimed that his maternal grandmother was originally from Ukraine and fled to Brazil to escape the brutal Nazi regime. In another telling, Santos maintained that both of his grandparents converted to Catholicism during the rise of Nazism in Belgium after fleeing from the Soviet Union. In yet another telling, he claimed his family changed their names to survive Nazi persecution. 

Seeking clarification on these claims, CNN’s KFile spoke to multiple genealogists, who say that there is no direct evidence of Santos’ supposed family history. The Republican’s familial misrepresentations were first reported by The Forward last Wednesday, which have been corroborated by the complete lack of records for Santos’ grandparents from the Holocaust Museum and the International Center on Nazi Persecution.

Megan Smolenyak, an author and professional genealogist who helped research Santos’ family tree for CNN, said, “There’s no sign of Jewish and/or Ukrainian heritage and no indication of name changes along the way.”

What records do show is that Santos’ maternal grandparents, Paolo and Rosalina Devolder, were both born in Brazil. Records on FamilySearch also show Santos’ great-grandfather as living in Brazil. While it’s possible that his grandparents returned to Europe and then moved back to the South American country, there is absolutely no evidence to support this.

As of writing, Santos’s lawyer has not responded to CNN’s request for comments.


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