13 October 2009

UK: Radio show reunites family in Moscow

It was with some trepidation that I read this story from the UK's Telegraph.

Last week - after all - the same paper got a story about Ahmedinejad's supposed Jewish roots completely wrong. I'm hoping the Telegraph checked the facts on this one, because it is heartwarming.

All family history researchers would like this to happen to them.

The British Labour Minister Ed Miliband appeared on a Moscow phone-in show and found a relative, Sofia Davidovna Miliband, 87, as he answered questions on climate change.

Producers first cut her off as they thought it was a hoax. Luckily, they later met and she provided family details. His brother also plans to meet his new cousin on his next trip to Russia.

The chance discovery will help him and his brother David, the foreign secretary, learn more about their late father’s Polish Jewish side of the family.

Samuel, the brothers’ grandfather, and Ralph, their father, fled to England at the start of the Second World War but many other family members were stranded in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Mrs Miliband, a historian and Middle East expert, rang the program and announced she was the brothers’ only living relative in Russia and wanted to tell Mr Miliband about his family’s past.

“My name is Sofia Davidovna Miliband,” she told the talk show host who cut her off quickly.

But Mr Miliband later visited the woman in her Moscow flat, keeping guests at an embassy reception waiting to catch up with his family history.
They are still trying to work out the genealogy, but he believes that his great-great-grandfather was the brother of Sofia’s grandfather.

Mrs Miliband, explained how she had told the minister how two men thought to be Mr Miliband’s great uncles committed suicide in order to escape the Nazi concentration camps, while a third was killed during the Nazi invasion of Poland. One of the men, Mikheil, killed himself by swallowing a dose of poison while boarding a train he learned was bound for Auschwitz or Dachau. A second relative, Osip, gassed himself and his wife using the kitchen stove, and a third relative, Stefan, was killed by German troops.

“I told him all I knew,” said Sofia. “And he told me all he knew.”
Read the complete article at the link above.


  1. Ittai8:03 AM

    This was covered by the BBC as well, last Wednesday evening:


    As it happens, this came out while I was in Israel to attend a reunion with 1st cousins of my father that I recently discovered.

    Like the Milibands we discovered we are not the only ones left, after all. Am Yisrael Chai!

  2. That's great news, Ittai. I remember when I found the lost Dardashti branch that had gone to Bombay via Bagdad. What a surprise! Most were in Israel with others in the UK and US. They knew who they were, but we had lost contact with their ancestor about 100 years ago!