Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Family tree

Two weeks ago, my uncle mentioned that my grandmother's family name has been traced back to cristãos novos, new Christians. If you aren't familiar, this is a term that was used in Spain and Portugal to single out Jewish and Muslim converts to the Roman Catholic church.

Later, my uncle got on the topic of my grandfather's family. My grandfather's father was a German man who married an Irish Catholic woman and moved to Brazil. We don't know very much about my great-grandfather, "he was running away from his Jewishness" said my uncle.

Later still, my uncle tells us that he met the niece of my great-grandfather. He says that she was French, and that although she never confirmed it, he suspects that her father was killed in a concentration camp.

I find it interesting, these religious threads woven into my family history. But more ubiquitous than the religious aspect is the whispery, half told nature of these stories. Because we have long been deprived of the close physical proximity that I assume maintains these types of things, our family stories are more like rumors than anything else.

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