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Anyone who commissions a pedigree or family tree looks back, usually not in anger, but to find out more about themselves and their origins. Those who do it in anger usually want to derive claims from previous ownership in inheritance disputes. One of the most sought-after geriatric researchers, the 36-year-old Manuel Aicher (in the picture in front of the family tree of the Guetzli dynasty of the Kamblis), wanders from Dietikon into other people's pasts. More about genealogy and a prominent example in the 1st covenant

Ancestors - pieces of the puzzle of my self

Pedigree charts and family trees are in, more and more people want information about their past. The Dietic genealogist Manuel Aicher about possible reasons and about his science.



The term genealogy, derived from "gender" and "doctrine", is the science that deals with the origin and fate of generations. (from: «Fundamentals of Family Research»)


"Definitely," says Manuel Aicher, owner of a genealogy office and head of the central office for genealogical information at the Swiss Society for Family Research (SGFF) - it's clear that the demand for knowledge of one's own origins and previous history has increased over the past few years. “About a year after the Wall came down” (Berlin, 1989), he says. Aicher sees a possible connection in the fact that the east-west split gave people support and guidance. The image of the enemy helped many who now have to reorient themselves.

Manuel Aicher, who has genealogical roots in the area between Stuttgart and Nuremberg and came to Switzerland eleven years ago (cherchez la femme), has been cultivating gender studies as a hobby since he was 14: "But I don't know anymore why and where the interest came from is." He then studied law, but found that this was not what he wanted to do in his everyday life: "Justice has too much to do with arguments." Genealogy is perhaps most closely related to jigsaw puzzles. It is the game of searching and combining that fascinates him, constructing an overall picture from individual parts, although sometimes the puzzle cannot be solved.

Even as a student in Berlin, the hobby genealogist was sometimes able to turn his hobby into a profit. Nowhere are the archives for East German research better stocked than in the previously divided Berlin, explains Aicher. For example, he helped people of German origin who lived in present-day Poland or Russia in their search for their origins or ancestors.

And in Switzerland, where he finally turned his hobby into a profession, he now has many orders from the USA. "descendants of Swiss emigrants," says Aicher. “Switzerland has always been a country of emigration; in the 18th century the Swiss emigrated primarily to southern Germany, and since the 19th century increasingly to the USA.” There are certainly at least as many people of Swiss descent there today as in Switzerland itself. "If other countries had behaved in the past as Switzerland does today, the people here would certainly have banged their heads in long ago or would have starved miserably."

Genealogy has a conservative image - wrongly so, according to Manuel Aicher. Although there are already some “blood and clod researchers”, “it is actually a very progressive science that, as you can see from the example of Switzerland, knows no borders.” Religious borders are much more important than political ones. Example Aargau: The Catholic Fricktalers often married across the Rhine into German or Austrian Catholic communities, but rarely across the Bözberg into the other reformed Aargau. 

A rule that is also confirmed by the pedigree of the Dietician artist Bruno Weber: the connections probably went beyond cantonal borders, but were essentially made within the same denomination, as Aicher was able to gather from the family certificates he had inspected. What the panel also clearly shows: genealogical research starts with one person and records - always in pairs (parents) - their origin. In this sense, it is also simpler and more straightforward than the descendants table (pedigree tree), which starts from an ancestor or from progenitors and, depending on the situation, records all their related descendants in wild ramifications.

Anyone who commissions a pedigree or descendant chart from Manuel Aicher today usually does so for historical reasons, in search of their own identity. Sometimes there are religious reasons, for example in the case of converts; who are looking for possible ancestors of the desired faith. And very rarely are there material reasons, mainly of an inheritance nature, to clarify any claims. But watch out: Your own past can cost you dearly, depending on the situation. The extracts from the register for Bruno Weber's pedigree alone resulted in fees of around 300 francs, which does not yet cover the genealogist's work.

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