Shown are my daughter, me, my mom, and my maternal grandmother, “Omi” (a nickname for her as a grandmother). Although the shots are from slightly different angles, I’d say there’s been somewhat of a strong family resemblance, yes. Yes and no.
Test results came back regarding my genetics and my maternal haplogroup is H4a1, and I have rare non ABO bloodtype. H4a1 found mostly in Poland, in 5% of Poland’s population.
The Sakha heritage and Polish haplogroup were a bit of a surprise. A little background on that…
Culturally, maternal grandmother’s (Omi’s) family was German. She left Germany for married life in Estonia, fled Estonia, fled within Germany, then extended family fled Dansig, Germany as it became Gdansk, Poland, and as soon as they could, they left Germany for the US, where my mother met my father. They came over on a US Navy ship and the Catholic Church, no friends of the Nazis, helped in some manner (family wasn’t even Catholic). No wonder older generations of my family were polyglots. Geez.
Genetically though… Although not as common, H4a1 haplo group, mostly associated with Poland, was also found in ancient (in what is now Germany) Corded Ware, Bell Beaker, and Unetice cultures. The Corded Ware culture is associated with the expansion of Y-haplogroup R1a (Eurasian) from the steppes to Central Europe and Scandinavia. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Preißing (anglisized name is Preissing), and she cam from Danzig, Germany, which is now Gdansk, Poland. People with the last name of Preißing come from Germany. She was proud that her ancestry came from some minor royalty, something few people care about today. (We’re still trying to trace ancestry on meine Omi’s side.) We don’t have any pictures and little information. My genetics results said only 3% German and a good chunk of my ancestry is Eastern European, which would include Poland. That was a bit of a surprise! Though it is true that many of my relatives have very dark hair, super thick, curly hair and somewhat darker coloring. (Unlike them, I’m so fair because I have Irish from my dad’s side and Estonian from my mom’s paternal side, I guess.)
Aside: Why did my Prussian/German grandmother marry an Estonian only to later have to flee Estonia @1940 – 1942 or so and return to Germany? My mom’s family fled the Russian Communists as they took over Estonia. My Estonian-born grandfather was both in the army and a university professor of engineering at Reval (now a university in Tallinn, Estonia as Reval is actually the old name for Tallinn) and I’m not sure what else. Omi (grandma) met Granddaddy when he was studying in Germany, they married and she moved to Estonia with him.
So my mother was born in Estonia in 1932 and her family fled Estonia when she was 8. My Estonian grandfather indicated he feared for his family’s safety and lives when they fled. There was something about communists ripping the gold cross necklace off my mom as she wore it. They were deported by train and didn’t know if they’d end up in Siberia to almost certain death or Germany, a country which had called back German-born citizens, of which my Grandmother was one. Soldiers separated women and children from the men and at one point, in fear for her sick infant’s life, my grandmother pleaded to speak with her husband and that’s when she was threatened with a soldier’s bayonet while she was holding her infant, my uncle. Can you imagine such a train ride?
“1941 Jan-1941 Apr, Another 7,500 individuals left Estonia for resettlement in Germany.
1941 Jun 14, The Russian secret police gathered up some 40,000 men, women and children and exiled them to Siberia in cattle cars. This was the first of many shipments. Some 10,000 Estonians, more than 15,000 Latvians and between 16,000 and 18,000 Lithuanians were herded onto cattle trains and transported to the far eastern reaches of the Soviet Union, where many of them died.
(WP, 6/29/96, p.A16)(http://tinyurl.com/5jxmas)
1941 Jun 14, Over 10,000 people (10,861 according to some sources) were deported as whole families from Estonia. About 230 Estonian officers serving in the 22nd Estonian Territorial Corps of the Red Army were imprisoned at the summer camp of the Estonian Army in southeastern Estonia. Most of them were sent to the Norilsk prison camp, where most of them either died or were executed.
My grandparents hated both Communism and Nazism and faced political refuge woes which resulted in the death of my infant uncle, and then my mother contracting scarlet fever, a disease which led to rheumatic heart damage and premature death later in her adult years (she died in related surgery). Even within Germany, they moved or fled many times, suffered near fatal malnutrition, and practiced extreme frugality and inventiveness. Sometimes children were moved around separately from the parents, and my mom was one of them. What they had to endure!
From this, they learned to be positive, goal oriented, resourceful, and to count on each other. When hungry, they dreamed of things like jam. They, my mother and her sister, actually didn’t reveal much about their childhood affected by war until in their 70s and their childhood and mine were like night and day.
So I didn’t even know this but found it on Wikipedia. “The city was known as Reval from the 13th century until 1918 and again during the Nazi occupation of Estonia from 1941 to 1944.” I do believe this is why they went by train, not knowing whether they were going to Siberia or Germany, soldiers monitoring, ruling the whole trip? First Russian Communists and then Nazis threatened their existence in Reval, which is now Tallinn, Estonia.
I don’t have any pictures or much information about Omi’s parents, all I have are names. I do know that when Poland took Danzig, Germany back and renamed it Gdansk, Poland, there were murders and rapes of Germans in the streets. My grandmother, however, had moved family out just hours before the melee started. I know some of extended family were left behind, I just don’t know who or what happened to them and whether they moved to Germany, died, or what. People didn’t like to talk about it.
It seems that in order to understand my family, I feel I have to approach it by studying genetic, emotional-social, Estonian, Russian, Polish/German/Prussian, white European, Eastern European, and eurasian avenues.
Anyway, maybe this, along with the Estonian background from my mother’ father’s side, helps explain why there are hints of eurasian ancestry in the family, like having a distinct epicanthal fold in infancy, or infants initially looking so asian that a father might doubt his paternity. One of my grown sons can’t grow facial hair, the other only has some scraggly hair on the chin and outer upper lip. Neither has chest hair.
Update: I’m part Yakut. (Had the Nazis known!) http://www2.ku.edu/~lba/projects/Yakut/yakut%20bgrnd.htm My husband also had Polish and other similar background. It’s quite possible he too carried Tartar/Mongolian DNA as well. I’d love for my kids to get their DNA done too.
Back to H — haplogroup H is a human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup that likely originated in Southwest Asia 20,000-25,000 YBP. Or that’s the present theory.
H4a1 is a sub-clade of Haplogroup H with a high concentration of this sub-clade found in today’s Poland — 5% of Poland’s population. That doesn’t mean it isn’t found elsewhere though.
H4 and H6, both absent from Europe before the Bronze Age, have such a wide distribution across the continent nowadays that they would likely have been spread both by R1a and R1b branches of the Indo-Europeans.
My son’s DNA results mentioned R1a1 too though I wonder if that came from his father’s side, which includes Polish-Lithuanian heritage, or both sides (probably both). Roughly 45 percent of Lithuanian men carry types within the Y-DNA (paternal DNA) haplogroup R1a. This haplogroup, especially R1a1a, arrived in eastern Europe when the Indo-Europeans migrated to the Ukrainian-Russian steppe, if they originated in Central Asia, although this group may have formed in eastern Europe itself (in the Pontic-Caspian steppelands).https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haplogroup_R1a
Update: Some of my genetic background originates from Russia and East-Central Asia.
Update: I have higher than average percentage of Neanderthal DNA for someone of European heritage. At least 301 genetic bits and bobs come from this source and wonder if this is why I’m unusually strong.