American Actor Joe Manganiello, the great-grandchild of an Armenian Genocide survivor, is sharing the details of his great-grandmother’s survival story in an episode of “Finding Your Roots” – a documentary television series on PBS. The episode featuring Manganiello will air on Tuesday, February 7 at 5 p.m. PST.
“Finding Your Roots,” in its ninth season, is a documentary series that uses DNA tracing and analyzing of genetic codes to help celebrities discover new details about their ancestry.
In episode six of the latest season, Manganiello comes face-to-face with new information about his past; specifically, the story of how his great-grandmother survived genocide after the Ottoman Turks invaded her village in 1915.
People’s magazine, who had an exclusive look at the episode, shared a few details of Manganiello’s recounting of his great-grandmother’s story. The magazine quoted the actor in the program as saying “the Turks came into her [his great-grandmother’s] home in 1915 under the guise of World War I and tried to enact the genocide that they had begun. They shot her husband dead, shot her. She laid on the ground, pretended that she was dead while seven other gunshots that went off, which were her seven children.”
Manganiello’s great-grandmother survived by pretending to be dead, while the Turkish soldiers killed all but one of her children. “She laid there unmoving and the Turks left the house and left the eighth child, who was an infant in the crib, to starve to death, which is just the way that they did business,” he recounts in the episode.
According to the actor, his great-grandmother “strapped the baby onto her back” and escaped the “death marches where they would just handcuff, chain the Armenians together and march them out to the desert, and release the Kurds, give them military coats, horses and guns, to then go do what they wanted with their mortal enemies, the Armenians.”
In the episode, Manganiello discusses how, his great-grandmother, while fleeing the massacres, had no choice but to swim across the Euphrates river with her youngest child strapped to her back. When she finally made it to the other side, she realized that her only living child had drowned.
“She had a bullet in her still, and to my understanding, she lived in a cave with other refugees until she was picked up by German military,” Manganiello says, as he describes how his great-grandmother was later impregnated by a German officer. “She gave birth to a very blonde, half-German child.”
Check your local listings for “Finding Your Roots” to watch Joe Manganiello discuss his great-grandmother’s Armenian Genocide survival story.