Best known as the ringmaster of ’90s daytime television, Jerry Springer has in recent years shown an earnest interest in his Jewish family tree, which was nearly uprooted by the Holocaust.
Following up on a televised exploration of this painful history, Springer last week visited London to support a British Holocaust-refugee archive project, The Jewish Chronicle reported.
“We are immensely grateful to Jerry Springer for giving his time to us and supporting our archives,” World Jewish Relief vice-chair Linda Rosenblatt said, according to the Chronicle. “We want to make these family records available, without charge, to the Jewish community around the world. I urge anyone who thinks we might have helped their family to get in touch.”
In its original incarnation as the Central British Fund for German Jewry, the group helped tens of thousands of European Jews escape the Nazis to Britain in the 1930s and 1940s — including thousands of children as part of the Kindertransport. Among the refugees were Springer’s parents, who arrived as young adults.
World Jewish Relief recently digitized hundreds of thousands of pages of immigration documents associated with that effort so that families can search them. At a private dinner, Rosenblatt presented Springer with his parents’ papers.
“I was deeply touched when I received the records of my parents’ immigration. “These papers are a piece of my family history which I will treasure forever,” Springer is quoted as saying.
“I am grateful that World Jewish Relief is making available this important archive and I hope the tens of thousands of families World Jewish Relief helped will discover the records of their families also.”
The papers show that Springer’s parents, Richard and Margot Springer, arrived in Britain from Germany in 1939 just before the outbreak of World War II. Margot Springer, born Margot Kallmann, was 32 years old when she arrived in Britain; Richard Springer was 34. The couple settled in Hampstead, England.
Twenty-seven other members of Springer’s family were killed in the Holocaust. In 2008, Springer investigated their fates on the BBC1 program “Who Do You Think You Are?” On visiting the train station where his maternal grandmother was sent to her death in Chelmno extermination camp and learning of her fate, Springer broke down in tears.
Springer was born in a London tube station in 1944 during a German bombing raid. The family lived in a suburb of London until moving to New York in 1949.
“Final Thought“: Springer went on to live a life that would only have been possible in America. Before making a fortune as a TV show host, he was a campaign advisor to Robert F. Kennedy, a practicing lawyer, the mayor of Cleveland (despite having resigned from the city council after admitting to hiring a prostitute) and a news anchor. He has also dabbled in acting and country music.
“The Jerry Springer Show” is still filming.