How We Got Here – Tracing the Family Tree

I’m currently digging into family history, building the tree with all the information I have, research other family members have done and lots of questions.

A few things I know already:

I come from a long line of farmers, on both sides of the family – we are deeply rooted in the very region I was born in, having lived there for more than 200 years (and very likely longer than that). One side of the family was quite prosperous, with a big farm house and lots of land at some point, but they lost everything during the 1920s.

My great-granddad came from a family with 9 children and had 11 children himself, four of who died in WWI and one in childhood, and one of who had a learning disability. 

My granddad was one of the younger sons. His four older brothers had died in World War I. The other half, him included, was in prison camps after World War II, but they came back home – my granddad returned last in the early ’50s, half-frozen and more than half-starved, from a gulag in Russia. He had been made into a soldier at the age of 15. He came back a Christian…to the now Communist half of Germany. He married his brother-in-law’s sister a few years later (from what I hear, he proposed to someone else first but was considered too “working class” by her parents). 

As I mentioned above, one of his sisters had learning disabilities. She was born in the 1920s, and survived Nazi Germany – a time when Eugenics were taken a step further to Euthanasia as part of “state policy”, in particular for people with disabilities, who were considered unworthy of and even damaging to the building up of a pure Arian race… I have no idea how she survived. I assume the neighbours must have protected her and her family.

There are so many stories to tell, lots of things I’d like to know more about. I know much less about my father’s side of the family than my mother’s. I’m aware that there are likely to be a few “walls” in certain directions, either because nobody knows anymore or because there are painful stories hidden there, and I hope I can learn at least a little more. I hope my family will help me and contribute what they know. It matters to me to know my roots, to see the individual stories and the big picture, to notice change and similarities across generations. And I’d love to go further back and see just how deep the roots go in my home region, and where other strands of the family have arrived from. I’m told there are Polish ancestors from my father’s side, there are some Prussian ancestors, and I think it’s very likely there are Czech family members as well. 

I’m tempted to do the ancestry DNA check to see where we come from! Maybe a birthday gift to myself this year 🙂 ?

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