Who do you think you are?
Natasha Kaplinsky

Natasha Kaplinsky

Natasha admits that she didn't really know who she was at the beginning of this film. Although she was born in England, her father was born in South Africa, her mother in India and her brother in Kenya. And yet she knows that her Kaplinsky ancestors came from Eastern Europe.

So where does her identity lie? We join Natasha in her journey to discover her heritage and her identity.

Natasha knew from childhood that her father, Raphie, had grown up in South Africa, and been involved in the anti-apartheid movement of the 1960s. She knew that he had left South Africa for England at 24 hours notice.

But it is not until Natasha travels to Cape Town University and reads a collection of old letters and newspapers, that she realises that Raphie actually lead a student demonstration in support of a black lecturer. These written accounts and eyewitness testimony lead her to appreciate her father's courage and the very real danger that he was in, which eventually compelled him to leave.

In a more light-hearted moment, Natasha goes in search of her mother's roots. After examining a family tree compiled by a relative, she is quickly on the trail of a many-times great grandfather, Benjamin Charlewood, who is reputed to have been an apothecary to the household of George III.

Natasha is presented with a great silver meat dish cover engraved with a coat of arms to 'prove' it. And there are some interesting discoveries in store.

To her disappointment, Natasha learns from an expert at Christie's that the dish was not made until after the death of George III, but there is better news at the Royal Society of Apothecaries. Their records reveal that Benjamin became a master of the Society in 1760, and an apothecary to the households of George II and III! And although Benjamin did not live to see it, it may be that his apprentices were called upon to treat the madness of King George.

But what about Raphie's parents, and their family from Eastern Europe? Natasha suspects that there might be some chilling truths to learn, and her relatives confirm that several members of the family perished in Eastern Europe during World War Two.

Raphie's father, Maurice, and some of his siblings, had already left for South Africa - they were the lucky ones. Natasha goes to Belarus and uncovers a series of documents that cast some light on a terrible past.

On the Yad Vashem database, she confirms the fate of her grandfather's brother, Abraham, who committed suicide following the deaths of his wife and children. She reads the preserved testimony that Izak, another brother, who survived by chance, made to a war crimes tribunal. She visits the spot in the woods where he so nearly met his end, and talks to a relative who recounts the fate of Rafael and Malka, Maurice's parents.

But despite the horror of her discoveries, Natasha finds that Izak's account contains a note of hope: following his escape, he joined the partisans, and worked to protect Jews in hiding from the clutches of the Nazis.

During a visit to the local resistance museum, Natasha uncovers the record that links Izak to the resistance - and the certainty that he had a hand in saving hundreds of lives. And so Natasha feels that she has found her heritage - and her identity, as part of a family of survival and hope.

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