Posted by Kristie Wells on August 6, 2013 in Who Do You Think You Are?

Records can tell you dates and places. But can they help you understand who a person really was? Raised Jewish, Chelsea Handler wanted to know more about her German grandfather — and was afraid of what she would find.

On tonight’s Who Do You Think You Are? she struggles to understand the man she loved and uncover the truth about his links to the Nazi party during WWII. She travels to Germany in search of records that can help her piece together her grandfather’s gripping story. And with help from historians and researchers, she’ll discover a good man facing difficult choices.

Don’t miss this complex story of family and history. Watch live on Tuesdays 9|8c on TLC or view the episodes online.

Previous Who Do You Think You Are? Episodes from Season 4:


Kristie Wells

Kristie is Ancestry's former Head of Global Social Media and Online Customer Engagement.


  1. Rashawn

    I love “Who do you think you are?” and I’m excited to see the show back on. However, I would like to see at least one or two episodes per season that feature some people of color. We tend to have unique genealogy challenges and it is inspiring to see someone break through some of those barriers. The diversity of stories presented also adds richness to the show and to viewer’s knowledge of history.

    Thanks for presenting family history stories and please aim for a broader range of stories and backgrounds.

  2. Jeff Record

    Wow…. With out trying to offend Ms. Handler (whose personality and work I am unfamiliar with) this particular program offered little in the way of genealogical research techniques, and even less in the way of intriguing story lines. Quite frankly Miss Handler seemed fairly bored throughout the whole process, and really only livened up at the idea of visiting the south of France. I find it quite curious also that the no doubt well-to-do Handler family could not simply drop by the German Language department at UCLA for a translation of her grand parent’s documents, and then stop by the History department on their way out? No, I did not miss the whole “Was grandpa a Nazi so I need to re-trace his Hitler roots” issue. However, it was a little hard to follow in between Miss Handler’s repeated statements about how important it was/is to her in being a Jew – a culture she was not traditionally born into by halakha decent. None of this matters -though she might have presented a more interesting aspect of her ancestry if she had followed her father’s Jewish heritage, or concentrated on breaking down the barriers involved in German genealogical research techniques. Miss Handler, with a translator, could have learned as much about her Grandfather and the Nazi ranking system while sitting on her sofa in LA if she had bothered to try. To me the whole trip effused her lack of interest in her heritage en toto, and tugged at her efforts to relieve herself of any Nazi guilt rather than to concentrate on her German heritage. Regrettably for me, the story was simply lacking in any mode to find some sort of empathy with Miss Handler – who seemed very detached and uninterested in the whole story herself. Nice try I guess. Grade C-

  3. Kathleen Ingram

    This episode was weak and so was the first one. It is improbable for Chelsea Handler to fly to Germany for a translation and other things that could have been done in the US.
    Please get better topics and subjects who show genuine enthusiasm.

  4. observer

    I have a different perspective about this episode.

    A poster says: “it was a little hard to follow in between Miss Handler’s repeated statements about how important it was/is to her in being a Jew – a culture she was not traditionally born into by halakha decent.”

    I think that is rather condescending. She was raised as a Jew, her father was Jewish and her mother was in full agreement. To imply that she was a ‘second-rate’ Jewish person because her mother was not born a Jew and to imply that she was therefore not traditionally entitled to the culture is disingenuous.

    Secondly, I had the feeling that what may be interpreted as a lack of enthusiasm on her part was an honest trepidation concerning her fear of just what she might find out. Her mission in this research was to find out, once and for all, if her grandfather was a Nazi or a member of the SS. She wanted to put to rest the not knowing. I can’t imagine that I would be showing a lot of enthusiasm treading into that unknown with all the associated preconceptions. She was on a mission to find out the truth.

    As far as traveling to places instead of just sitting in your living room in LA and doing the translating, there is nothing, nothing, like experiencing the surroundings firsthand when you are discovering information. I also think that her perking up when the French Riviera was mentioned was a comic relief moment after such serious investigation.

    As a person myself who has seemingly opposing elements in my own family tree, I identified with this dichotomy that she faced. It is apparent that love conquered a lot in her parents and grandparents lives.

  5. Jeff Record

    I sincerely regret any statements I might have made that implied Miss Handler was not ardent in her faith. To the best of my knowledge, I was citing what is considered by many Jews to be a traditional Jewish ancestry, or lineage – and was not intended to deprecate anyone’s faith. If what I said was incorrect, impolite, or poorly stated – I do so very much sincerely apologize. I do not wish to be the man who treads on anyone’s faith – under any circumstances. If my comments need to be taken down – please, by all means I respect’s right to do so.

    Miss Handler, with whom I am unfamiliar in all aspects, certainly seems to be a good person.

    That being said, the program was dull, and the methodology for instructional genealogical pursuits was, well, fairly non-existent. If the program is to be for ‘entertainment value’ then the presentation should be highlighted more so as such. If the program is intended to teach us at the same time – then teach us. If it is intended to do both – then do both. I for one don’t find comic relief and absolutely no instruction in the revelry of a trip to the south of France. It begs the question, “Which is more important to you, your grand father’s possible Nazi affiliation or that you get to wear the right swimming suit?”

    We all have opposing elements in our family trees. Anyone that doesn’t may not have been born on this planet. Anyone that isn’t curious enough about discovering their own ancestry from where they exist on a daily basis and not on some foreign ground – may not, I repeat “only” may not – really be all that interested in looking at their ancestry too very far in depth after all.

    Most of us can ill afford a trip to France to see whether we like the subject matter “first hand” or not. I guess my question for Ms. Handler would be if she has since this program studied further and more in depth her German heritage, or is she “done now,” since she seems to have come to terms with removing any alleged Nazi stigma from her Jewish heritage? I do agree that love conquered a great deal in the lives of her parents and grandparents. Kudos to her for sharing that aspect of the story with us. Yet, sorry, this was still a grade C episode of an otherwise stellar program. You have only to look at the number of comments to see the value of perhaps not the information, but certainly its presentation.

    Kathleen above is correct when she states “Please get better topics and subjects who show genuine enthusiasm.” Nicely said Kathleen… ~ Peace ~

  6. Annette

    I agree with Rashawn — previous seasons of WDYTYA had black performers and sports figures who explored their heritage but not this year. WDYTYA concentrates on celebrities, I assume because they draw new viewers, so how about one or two people of color in the next season? Did your program ever feature a Latino, an Asian, or a Native American? I am white, but I have tried to help black friends research their heritage and it often seems like one stone wall after another.

    The season so far has been uneven — the Kelly Clarkson episode was marred for me by Ms Clarkson’s over the top reaction to everything that was presented to her, and the Handler episode was not as interesting as I would have thought it would be.

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