Claims by incoming Republican Rep. George Santos that his grandparents “survived the Holocaust” as Ukrainian Jewish refugees from Belgium who changed their surname to survive are contradicted by sources reviewed by CNN’s KFile including family trees compiled by genealogy websites, records on Jewish refugees and interviews with multiple genealogists.
Santos, who has called himself “half Jewish” and a “Latino Jew” in media appearances, has claimed his maternal grandfather was originally from Ukraine and fled to Brazil to escape Nazism. In another telling, the New York Republican said his grandparents converted to Catholicism during the rise of Nazism in Belgium after fleeing Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union. In another telling, he claimed his family changed their name to survive Nazism.
CNN spoke to multiple genealogists who said there was no proof of the claims. Santos’ misrepresentations of his family history were first reported by The Forward on Wednesday. Records from the Holocaust Museum and the International Center on Nazi Persecution, which contain records on Jewish refugees, also show no mention of Santos’ grandparents.
Truth-challenged Rep.-elect George Santos attempted to explain his mysterious wealth Wednesday, saying he made millions of dollars by selling second-hand luxury goods on the down-low with little documentation.
“What I will do is, I will go look out there, within my Rolodex and be like: ‘Hey, are you looking for a plane?’ ‘Are you looking for a boat?’ I just put that feeler out there,” he told Semafor about how he supposedly flipped $20 million yachts for six-figure referral fees after raking in just $55,000 in annual salary as recently as 2020.
Santos, 34, declined to offer any specific examples or documents to the outlet proving his sudden success was legally aboveboard.