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bring the dead to life

Dietikon Manuel Aicher, who is actually a lawyer, researches the ancestors

Even after twelve years of research and collecting, Manuel Aicher from Dietikon is an enthusiastic genealogist. What fascinates him about it and why genealogical research is backbreaking work.


Caption (original):  Manuel Aicher   The Dietikan genealogist in front of a pedigree.

We invited Manuel Aicher to talk about his expertise in family history research as part of the <Meeting in the Grendelmeyer House> series of events," explains Hans-Peter Trutmann, President of the Dietikon Music School. The aim of the series of events is to liven up the music school building, it disturbs the board when the house is empty in the evening. That is why experts from the Limmat Valley who have something extraordinary to report are invited to give short presentations and talks. “On a voluntary basis”, as Trutmann emphasizes, “therefore the budget is not burdened. The atmosphere is always informal."

When names get life  

The genealogist Aicher is looking forward to a lively conversation and many questions about genealogical research and family trees. "Interest in the ancestors is increasing," he notes. The German lawyer has been involved in genealogical research since his youth, and even as a boy he wrote down the names of the European nobility in the encyclopedia and compiled them on plaques. He later researched the history of his own family and marched from parish to parish with his mother, who supported his project.

Today, Aicher is a well-known specialist in Switzerland and Germany. On the one hand he is the head of the central office for genealogy, on the other hand he deals with genealogical research and heir research on his own. It's a job that can quickly get up your sleeve. Aicher says: "In my research, names never remain smoke and mirrors, the people are increasingly coming to life." Few people know that in the middle of Dietikon, at Schöneggstrasse 26, there has been a central office for genealogy organized as an association for 10 years now. The site has a bibliographic database, a genealogical computer database, and a growing archive. There is also a library with tools for determining family names and tips for starting research. 

"Our interested parties are able to get quick answers to their questions or information about the specialist departments," says Aicher. Of course, the central office works together with the cantonal archives in Switzerland, with genealogical associations and experts. Since the central office receives no public funds, fees are paid; a standard report costs about 40 francs.

Exciting stories

The fact that Aicher continued to enjoy researching and collecting even after 12 years of professional work has to do with the many stories and curiosities that he encounters every day. When doing research, he repeatedly encounters similar problems: "The most difficult thing for a beginner is deciphering old writings and dealing with the authorities." With those responsible

He encounters different types of concessions from communities and cities, often encountering distrust or closed doors.

“People who are in an emergency also come to us. For example, adoptive children who are looking for their parents or we encounter the fate of emigrants,” says Aicher. In Switzerland, research is relatively easy and doesn't cost a fortune compared to Germany, where many sources were lost in the war. A pedigree could also be an ideal gift for a big birthday, from which the offspring also benefited.

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