• Germany edition
 
Genealogist finds Obama's German roots
Photo: DPA

Genealogist finds Obama's German roots

Published: 26 Jul 2008 14:45 GMT+02:00
Updated: 26 Jul 2008 14:45 GMT+02:00

As evidenced on his recent stop in Berlin, Barack Obama is so loved by Germans that many perhaps wish he were German. Now, they can comfort themselves in the knowledge that he is a little bit German – 4.6875 percent, to be exact.

A true representation of the melting pot that is America, Barack Obama owes his German roots to his great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Christian Gutknecht, who left Germany for the New World in 1749, Germany weekly newspaper Die Zeit reported on Friday.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view photos of Obama's Berlin visit.

When his name was translated into English, Gutknecht (which means “good serf”) leapt through the ranks to become Mr. Goodknight. Eventually, the silent “k” was dropped and he went by the name of Goodnight. Die Zeit speculates that this distant relative of Obama's likely lived as a farmer in Pennsylvania, where he would have experienced the American Revolution and the founding of the United States. He died on December 26, 1795 – appropriately – in Germantown.

From there, it's just a journey over six generations from Virginia via Indiana to Kansas, before you get to the birth of Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, in 1942. And that, says genealogist William Addams Reitwiesner, makes the Democratic presidential candidate almost 5 percent German.

While this could go a long way in explaining Obama's popularity in Germany, the paper says it could also be the key to his success at home, where researchers say the candidate would do well to “embrace protestant German values.” After all, every third American has German ancestors, and Obama's home state of Illinois still reflects the German background of many of its settlers.

Many pundits agree that an association with Germany sits well with American voters – unlike an association with France, as the last Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, learned the hard way.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right
Today's headlines
Private health insurance not worth it for workers
Photo: DPA

Private health insurance not worth it for workers

Thousands of employees paying into private health insurance in Germany get poor value for money, according to consumer experts - who recommend going private for just one group of workers. READ () »

Putin warns Merkel of Ukraine civil war
A Ukrainian policeman at a checkpoint in the eastern city of Kharkiv on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Putin warns Merkel of Ukraine civil war

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Chancellor Angela Merkel that Ukraine was on the verge of civil war after the Kiev government sent in the army against separatists in the east of the country, the Kremlin said on Wednesday. READ () »

'Free range' chicken farmer tricks customers
Free range? Photo: DPA

'Free range' chicken farmer tricks customers

A major producer of ethically certified meat has admitted to defrauding thousands of customers for years by passing off conventional chicken as free-range. But the regulator said it took swift action to deal with the case. READ () »

Op-Ed
Why Germany should stop arming the world
Saudi Arabia wants to buy 800 German Leopard 2 tanks. Photo: DPA

Why Germany should stop arming the world

Germany's weapons industry is booming, and even the vice chancellor's attempt to stop selling tanks to the Saudis is a minor concession for the world's third biggest arms exporter. But the trade is destabilizing security. READ () »

WWI colour photos go on display in Berlin
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt

WWI colour photos go on display in Berlin

An exhibition opened in Berlin last week of rare colour photos from World War I. Haunting images of soldiers in trenches take centre stage in the collection. READ () »

German economy enjoying 'solid upturn'
Photo: DPA

German economy enjoying 'solid upturn'

The German economy is currently in the middle of a "solid upturn", the government said on Tuesday, even if concerns about the fallout from Ukraine are souring investor confidence. READ () »

Wet week leads up to warmer Easter weekend
Photo: DPA

Wet week leads up to warmer Easter weekend

The days running up to Easter may be cool and wet, but the holiday weekend should be a bit warmer for most of Germany, state weather service the DWD forecast on Tuesday. READ () »

Petition seeks to remove WWII Russian tanks
One of the WWII Russian tanks near the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA

Petition seeks to remove WWII Russian tanks

German newspapers launched a petition Tuesday to remove two Russian tanks from a World War II memorial in central Berlin in protest against Russia's actions in Ukraine. READ () »

Elderly man taped €200,000 to his genitals
Photo: DPA

Elderly man taped €200,000 to his genitals

Customs officers in western German caught an elderly man with almost €200,000 taped to his genitals. He and his wife had just crossed into the country from Luxembourg last week. READ () »

'Dangerously high dust levels' hit big cities
Photo: DPA

'Dangerously high dust levels' hit big cities

Germany is being exposed to very high levels of fine dust in the air, the environmental office (UBA) said on Tuesday. In big cities, levels exceed those deemed safe by experts. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Society
'The mafia has infiltrated every sector in Germany'
Photo: DPA
Society
JobTalk: Why you should teach English in Germany
Photo: DPA
National
330,000 sign up against TV licence fee
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
School kids hospitalized after 'porno' party
Photo: Submitted
Frankfurt
'I'll get even with my old pal Schwarzenegger'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The week in pictures: April 5th - April 11th
Photo: DPA
Travel
Germany to charge foreign drivers from 2016
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten great inventions you (probably) didn't know were German
Photo: J. Arthur White
Berlin
Clashes in Berlin as refugees tear down their own camp
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Munich's baby polar bears are finally named
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
'World's oldest' message in a bottle arrives home
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The 10 best German employers to work for
Advertisement:
CurrencyFair
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Mr. Lodge
Sponsored Article
How to find a furnished rental in Munich
Sponsored Article
How to make a lasting impression in business
Hult International Business School
Sponsored Article
What they don't teach you at Business School
Photo: DPA
Society
Nine jobs you can only do in Germany
Photo:ESL
Sponsored Article
How to integrate successfully in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,082
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd