Famous American actor Joe Manganiello told the harrowing story of his great-grandmother, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, on the PBS program Finding Your Roots.
In an exclusive video provided to People, Manganiello detailed how his great-grandmother, who witnessed the murder of her husband and 7 children, fled Armenia in 1915.
"The Turks came into her 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," the actor said.
Manganiello's grandmother lay like that until the Turks left her house.
"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."
Then Joe's grandmother strapped the baby to her back and fled the town, but narrowly escaped the horrible "death march."
"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. She escaped that," the actor said. Snuck past, got to the Euphrates river with the baby on her back, swam across the river, and when she got to the other side, the baby had drowned."
Manganiello added that his great-grandmother, so wounded, lived in a cave with other refugees until the German military found her. She became pregnant in a German military camp by a German officer.
When asked what made them participate in the famous show, Manganiello said, "I had known since I was a kid about the Armenian genocide survivor story and that there was this German soldier who was my great-grandfather.
For the past ten years, I’d been trying to get on a genealogy show to find out who that German was. I always got no. And about two years ago, we got a yes from Finding Your Roots because they felt that technology had gotten to the place where they might be able to make some headway."
Project host Henry Louis Gates Jr. admitted to Rolling Stone magazine that Joe Manganiello's story was one of the most impressive for him.
Finally, thanks to the program, it was discovered that the name of that German soldier was Karl Wilhelm Beutinger.
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