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POLITICS

Genealogist finds Obama’s German roots

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.

Genealogist finds Obama's German roots
Photo: DPA

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.

POLITICS

IN PICTURES: Germany hosts G7 summit with Bavarian twist

G7 leaders are meeting in Bavaria to discuss important issues including Russia's war on Ukraine and the food crisis. The event is known for producing memorable pictures. Here's a look at the best images and tweets so far.

IN PICTURES: Germany hosts G7 summit with Bavarian twist

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The Group of Seven wealthy nations is holding their annual summit in the stunning surroundings of the Bavarian Alps. 

The world leaders are engaged in talks at the Schloss Elmau with a focus on Russia’s war on Ukraine, climate change, energy, the global food crisis and rising inflation. 

The G7 gatherings are known known for producing some memorable photos and amusing moments, and this year is no exception. Here’s a look at the best so far. 

When the G7 summit started on Sunday, the southern state of Bavaria became the standout attraction. 

Leaders of the nations involved – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the USA – were given traditional Bavarian welcomes. 

Spearheaded by Bavarian premier Markus Söder, the leaders were greeted by people clad in Bavarian costumes, such as the dirndl. 

It sparked heated debates on how Germany is portrayed to the rest of the world.  

READ ALSO: Can Scholz create a Merkel-like buzz at the G7 in Bavaria?

Journalist Mathieu von Rohr said on Twitter: “It’s hard to imagine what Söder would have done to Germany’s image in the world as chancellor.”

Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, walks past people wearing traditional Bavarian costumes after his arrival at Munich airport on June 26th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Karmann

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, walks past people wearing traditional Bavarian costume after his arrival at Munich airport on June 26th.

The left wing newspaper Taz on Monday led with a front page that included this headline: “Finally, indigenous peoples at the G7 summit”.

READ ALSO: Why Bavaria does politics differently to the rest of Germany

The photo of US President Joe Biden signing his name in the Bavarian guest book to Germany produced lots of good captions. 

Nathan Ma poked fun at Germany’s infamous overly complicated contracts that are hard to get out of.

Commentators in Germany have also been making their views known about the events at the summit. 

German broadcaster BR said in an opinion article that the opening G7 event was “like a Monty Python sketch”.

Writer Max Büch said: “Yes, it’s embarrassing that Joe Biden is being coerced by Markus Söder to sign the guestbook at the airport.”

He added: “But people in traditional costume are not embarrassing per se. Even if taz’s ‘indigenous peoples at the G7 summit’ is meant satirically, the title hits a very true core of the image that the rest of Germany still has of Bavaria.”

The southern German traditions continued with Schuhplattler, a traditional style of folk dance popular in the regions of Bavaria and Tyrol. 

“Bavaria makes up perhaps 10 percent of Germany,” one journalist said in another tweet on the Schuhplattler video. “But 90 percent of people abroad think this is all of us.

Bavarian premier Markus Söder defended the opening ceremony. 

He said on Twitter: “Bavaria is the land of homeland and custom: many thanks to our traditional costume associations, musicians and mountain riflemen for their support in welcoming the G7 heads of state. They present the Free State and our traditions with great pride. It was a great backdrop.”

Like every year, the pictures of G7 leaders joking around and getting up, close and personal have also been commented on.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signals to the other G7 leaders during a photo shoot at Elmau. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler
 
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz signals to the other G7 leaders during a photo shoot at Elmau.
 
We’d love to be a fly on the wall for the private conversations being held between the leaders. Here German Chancellor Olaf Scholz looks on in amusement at British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Elmau on June 26th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Kneffel

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Elmau on June 26th.

The lack of women G7 leaders was also commented on. 

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