Santos claims grandparents were Holocaust survivors challenged


George Santos faces growing scrutiny over where he has worked, where he went to school, and where his seemingly sudden wealth has come from.

But now the U.S. Representative-elect is being questioned about something much different: Is he a descendant of Holocaust survivors?

The answer, according to one venerable online Jewish publication, is no. 

"I'm a Jewish descendant," Santos told a roundtable of reporters from both Herald Community Newspapers and a sister publication, The Jewish Star, back in October. "My mother was Jewish. My grandparents are Holocaust survivors."

Yet, if that's true, there's simply no record of it, according to The Forward. Reporter Andrew Silverstein says the online genealogy website lists both of Santos' maternal grandparents as being from Brazil. In fact, a 2016 obituary for the politician's mother — Fatima Aziza Caruso Horta Devolder — says she was born just outside of Rio de Janeiro in 1962.

Even his mother's Facebook page fails to make any mentions of any Jewish faith, according to Silverstein, and instead focuses primarily on Roman Catholic themes and references. 

Santos — who upset Democrat Robert Zimmerman to succeed Tom Suozzi in the U.S. House of Representatives last month — has made no secret of his Catholic faith. But he has regularly tied his family connections to Judaism into his support for Israel, including when he talked with Herald reporters during the campaign.

"There's no room for antisemitism in this country," Santos said at the time. "There's no room for discrimination in this country. And I wouldn't stand by any kind or any level of antisemitism, or anti-anything."

On his campaign website, Santos claims his grandparents "fled Jewish persecution in Ukraine, settled in Belgium, and again fled persecution" during World War II. 

"They were able to settle in Brazil, where his mother was born," according to his self-created biography. Yet, Silverstein says neither of Santos' maternal grandparents appear in Brazilian immigration cards from that time period, or in databases that list European Jewish refugees.

This latest revelation comes just days after a New York Times investigation claims Santos did not work for Citigroup or Goldman Sachs, like he claimed, and that he didn't attend Baruch College or New York University either. Santos has not responded to those claims directly, but attorney Joseph Murray called the Times reporting a "shotgun blast of attacks."

"It is no surprise that Congressman-elect Santos has enemies at The New York Times who are attempting to smear his good name with these defamatory allegations," Murray told the Herald.

For his part, Zimmerman said at least as far as The New York Times revelations go, it was "not a shock," and made clear that not only should Santos resign, but he should be subject of a federal investigation for some of the financial aspects of his campaign, including where he received $700,000 to loan his campaign.

"My campaign has been calling out George Santos' scams and lies about himself for several months," Zimmernan said in a statement on Tuesday. "The reality is that Santos flat-out lied to the voters. He's violated the public trust in order to win office, and does not deserve to represent Long Island and Queens."