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August 19, 2015 4:20 pm

Actress Jane Seymour Learns of Great-Aunt Who Committed Suicide After Discovering Nazis Murdered Her Family

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A BBC documentary revealed that Jane Seymour's great-aunt survived the Holocaust but then committed suicide after discovering her family had been killed. Photo: Twitter.

A BBC documentary revealed that Jane Seymour’s great-aunt survived the Holocaust but then committed suicide after discovering her family had been killed. Photo: Twitter.

A great-aunt of famed British actress Jane Seymour killed herself after surviving the Holocaust when she discovered that the Nazis murdered her husband and two children, a BBC documentary aired Wednesday revealed.

The death of Seymour’s aunt, Jadwiga, came just over a year after Germany’s defeat. She was related to Seymour’s father, who came from a family of Polish Jews, the U.K. Daily Mail reported.

The discovery was revealed on the series Who Do You Think You Are? in which celebrities trace their ancestry.

According to the report, Jadwiga was living in Warsaw with her husband Herman Temerson and their two children Jerzy and Hanna when World War II broke out. In September 1942, as Nazis sent the city’s Jews to the Treblinka death camp, she and her family managed to escape, but they were separated from one another.

Jadwiga spent the rest of the war in hiding. When she emerged after the war, she discovered that her husband had been shot dead by a German soldier during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1944, with Jerzy killed soon after. Hanna, then 21, had been “seen” in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the end of the war but Jadwiga’s efforts to locate her were to no avail, the Daily Mail reported.

“Her messages [about Hanna] got a reply saying, ‘No trace in Belsen camp’,” said Seymour, 64, who is of Dutch descent on her mother’s side. “I didn’t know who [Hanna] was and I didn’t know her history [until now] but this must have been the cousin my father went to find after the war.”

Another of Seymour’s great-aunts, Micaela, also survived the Holocaust and escaped with her family to Switzerland, where they stayed until the end of the war. Jadwiga applied for a Swiss visa in 1946 and reunited with her sister, the Daily Mail noted. In October of that same year, a month before her six-month visa expired, Jadwiga disappeared.

Her body was found a few weeks later in the local woods by a group of schoolchildren playing in the area. The cause of death was thought to be suicide and she was buried in a Jewish cemetery outside of Geneva.

Jadwiga and Micaela were the sisters of Seymour’s grandfather Lewin Frankenburg. The actress, born Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg, said that although she knew both of her Polish great-aunts survived the Holocaust, she always had an interest in learning more about their lives. She was shocked to hear about Jadwiga’s fate after overcoming so many obstacles.

“To have survived so much, to have survived the loss of your husband, to have had the strength to bear not knowing where your children are,” she said. “She had the strength to go on this unbelievable journey and then when she was safe and finally with her sister, she just gave up. You can only hope that she did find peace in the end.”

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  • Virginia

    There’s a special place in hell….. for Nazis…..

  • Sorry Laura but the deniers e, heinous, irrelevant and without credibility but they present a threat to History that even a man running for US President can endorse their hate filled and rancid lies! The Barbarians have History! The deniers are attempting to create a space for their Fraud in all our History!

  • It is a tragedy that Jadwiga was so desperate and alone she ended her life? That she was a Jew, a Survivor of The Holocaust, it is shameful that we allowed her to feel so abandoned!

  • Sara klompus

    Really touching story

  • Stuart Hersh

    It appears that constant focusing on the fact that Jadwiga was the lone survivor of her family sent her into deep depression and suicide. Such post-war tragedies were not uncommon among Holocaust survivors.

    However,It does go along way to explaining Jane Seymour’s magnificent performance in the role of Natalie Jastrow in “War and Rememberance”. She was reliving (in part)her family’s tragedy. Her emotions did not appear staged, or rehearsed.

  • Mayven

    It seems so unfair that perpetrators of unimaginable heinous crimes walked free as water off a duck’s back.
    I hope there is a God.

  • laura burkhart

    Such pain is unthinkable! She loved them so deeply… Who could live w/o hope of reuniting?
    To think some say the holocaust never happened…barbarians!

  • Tabitha Korol

    Thanks for the poignant reporting. There are many such stories from the Holocaust, and we must remain vigilant and active to prevent such experiences from recurring.
    We must stop the deal with Iran…or we will be funding ($150 billion) our own destruction.

  • Sad story indeed,the horror that Jews were subjected to by Nazi Germany is incomprehensible but anti-semitism is rampant again all over Europe including the UK with a member of Parliament spewing hateful rhetoric and the question is WHY ? The simple answer is the world always needs a scapegoat for the ills of the day, ENTER THE JEWS,but then we have the Glorius Democratic State of Israel,
    AM YISROEL CHAI, The nation of Israel lives, Thank G-D !!

  • Jay Berman

    Very sad story. I can understand her desire to be with her husband and children.