Comedian Chelsea Handler went in search of her family’s past on TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are” and found at least part of her ancestry in pre-war Nazi Germany.
On the show, the usually sarcastic host of “Chelsea Lately” on E! held her sharp tongue and adopted a much more subdued attitude than we’re used to seeing from her.
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The episode of the TLC celebrity-ancestry series was seen this past Tuesday (Aug. 6). It showed Handler, 38, embarking on an investigation into her ancestry that took from her Los Angeles home to Germany, where she learned more about her maternal grandparents, Karl and Elisabeth Stocker (pronounced Sto-ker), and the lives they lived in Germany between the world wars.
As Handler explains on the show, she was one of six siblings who grew up in New Jersey. Her mother was German; her father, Seymour Handler, is Jewish — and the children were raised Jewish, Handler said.
Her ancestry investigation was centered mainly on her mother’s side of the family because Handler wanted to learn — definitively, if possible — if her grandfather was an “enthusiastic” supporter of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime. The family already knew Karl Stocker served in the Germany army during World War II, but many soldiers were not official members of Hitler’s Nazi Party, though they fought in support of Hitler’s ambitions for conquering Europe.
On the show, Handler revealed that her grandfather was taken prisoner by the Americans and spent the remainder of the war at a POW camp in Montana. After the war, he sought to bring his family from Germany to live in America — presumably because he grew to like the United States, even while imprisoned there, and also possibly because post-war Germany was a destroyed nation where opportunities were few.
In Germany, Handler learns that Grandpa Karl was employed before the war in a factory in his small town that was owned by an ardent Nazi Party member. And she learns about her grandfather’s military service, which included service in 1942 in the terrible battles in the war’s “Eastern Front” in Russia.