Do I have Swiss roots, German roots, or both?

+4 votes
My grandfather [[Bleher-2|Willy Bleher]] was born in Zürich but both his parents, [[Bleher-3|Johann Bleher]] and [[Diez-53|Elisabetha (Diez) Bleher]], were born in Baden-Württemberg.

Should I consider my mother and myself as having German roots, Swiss roots, or both?
WikiTree profile: Willy Bleher
in Genealogy Help by Chris Garrigues G2G5 (5.3k points)

4 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer
If you look at it from the perspective of a second generation US person whose ancestors came from Germany would you question whether to use German roots or US roots? In my opinion the situation is the same whether somebody immigrates to Switzerland or to the USA. Roots to me means if you dig deeper where do you end up with your oldest known ancestors?
by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (549k points)
selected by Randy Almond
Thanks Helmut, I like your interpretation. One of my grandmothers was second and third generation born in Australia, however all of her ancestors spoke German. It's very clear to me that she had German Roots, and not Australian Roots.
+5 votes
I would suggest to write German roots, but with a remark that you are also a little bit Swiss.
by Dieter Lewerenz G2G Astronaut (2.1m points)
+3 votes
I would determine this on the question if your Grandfather married someone from Switzerland. Just because he was born in Switzerland there doesn't sadly mean that your roots are from there, just that the family moved from Germany to Switzerland (which still is a thing to remember).

Since Baden-Württemberg and Switzerland share a border it might even be that your ancestors lived in both countries when you look further back.
by Frank Jatzek G2G2 (2.6k points)
Looking further back, they appear to have been German, not Swiss.

His parents moved to Switzerland where they had their children. They eventually got Swiss citizenship for the entire family (during the First World War, interestingly). My grandfather moved to California in the 1920s where he married a Swede.

I grew up thinking I had a Swiss grandfather since acknowledging German heritage was not a good thing do do in the mid-20th century. It was only as an adult that I learned that although he was a Swiss citizen born in Zurich, both his parents were German. My mother still doesn't want to acknowledge that she's half German.
But you do realize, don't you,? that ethnically and linguistically the German speaking Swiss and the German speaking Württembergers and Badeners are all the same. The borders are all fairly recent political boundaries that have little to do with ethnicity or language.

This is clearly true. Interestingly in the latest Ancestry Ethnicity Estimate, my mother is only 4% "Germanic Europe".

For someone who is half Swedish and half German, this is an interesting estimate:


Her Swiss/German side largely seems to come from this portion of the "England and Northwestern Europe map:


Although I'd assumed from my own ethnicity estimate that the Norwegian came from my Swedish side, my mother's would certainly imply that these "Swiss Germans" had significant Viking blood!  Who knew the Vikings made it into the Alps.

Okay, that's annoying. I wish it hadn't looked like the images were going to show up.

The estimate looks like this:

Sweden 54%
England & Northwestern Europe 27%
Norway 15%
Germanic Europe 4%

and the map portion that I'd pasted shows an isolated island of "England & Northwestern Europe" ancestry around Switzerland and expanding into Germany.

This begs the question of how far back does one's roots need to go to be considered "Swiss" or "German" (in this case)? In other words if you are born in Switzerland and your parents weren't, does that nullify you being Swiss? How many generations would it take to become Swiss? It is a worthwhile question as I think not everyone would agree!
If you were born in Switzerland, then you are Swiss (born).  If  your parents, and their parents, and their parents, were born in Germany, then you have German roots - or you are Swiss of German extraction.

I'm an Australian born, but I have Welsh, Irish, Scottish, English, Australian, and Swedish roots.

(Had to throw the Aussie roots in, too, as that started in 1804, and successive generations -  with one exception - were born in Australia.)
+2 votes

I would recommend both. It is an interesting question though and makes me think how we identify our heritage is a big part of our personal identity. It is making me ponder lol. smiley

by Kylie Haese G2G6 Mach 7 (77.6k points)

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