listening to: stereolab – kyberneticka babicka pt 1
God. It’s like Stereolab has managed to crack the weird minimalist code of my brain. This is like…what happens when I get the same four measures of something stuck in my head, and it very slowly changes and moves around and…*head explodes* Damn you, Stereolab.
My sister called from Germany yesterday (which was initially freaky, because I didn’t realize that she actually calls home more often than not, and when I picked up the phone and answered I was like “…wait. It sounds like I’m talking to me. What’s going on here.”), to say hi and leave a threatening message for my mother to send her a recipe. And…we were just chatting, when she mentioned something interesting about our last name, and some heritage junk.
Okay, so. I’m pretty sure that in the past, when I’ve asked where our last name comes from, I’ve been told that it’s a German name. But recently, in searching online fairly incessantly, I’ve found that it’s really not German. All that comes up is that it’s Jewish. Yes, my Dad is Jewish, it makes sense. But freaking A, where did the name come from?!
My Dad doesn’t really have many relatives around, or anyone who might know some of the family history. My grandfather died in the 1970’s, and my grandmother recently passed away, with her fairly deteriorated memory unable to tell us that much. We know that my grandmother’s family came from Baden Baden (Southern Germany), but I am pretty sure I had never heard anything about my grandfather’s side. Recently, though, some cousins or somebody, I think, did some research and found that my grandfather’s family immigrated from a city in Hungary, before WWII. Interesting, though somebody pointed out that it didn’t mean the family name was Hungarian. It seems just as likely that the family could also have been from Austria or Germany.
Erica was telling me over the phone yesterday that she was searching for articles about anti-semitism in French schools, and somehow managed to come across a search engine through the Jerusalem Holocaust Museum website that is connected to a database of Holocaust victims. A search of our last name revealed that most of those with our last name had lived in Hungary and spoke Hungarian, but that many also came from Slovakia. Well. And looking now? No kidding.
Additionally –apparently my Mom had known this, but I was not aware until Erica told me– our last name is Russian derived, and comes in various other spellings (Diker, Dikker). It was a fur-trading term that meant “ten pelts or more.”
Knowing what I know about the Jews in Europe and anti-semite attitudes of the past, it’s probably going to be difficult to say that my ancestors came from any one place. I could imagine that they started in Russia and worked their way West and South from there. Honestly, I just have to say that I think it’s cool to finally know a little bit more about my Dad’s side of the family, even if these bits of knowledge are only possibilities, and not outright facts.
For the record, just to speak for the other half, my mother’s family is Polish-Catholic. Her maiden name is Stysh, but I imagine that back in the day that name probably had two or three extraneous c’s or z’s in it, or even another y. Just because. So I guess I’m just sort of an Eastern European…mutt? Not that it matters, now. I just can’t help but be completely fascinated by junk like this.
Just to retouch on the Holocaust Victim Database search, I am amazed that such a thing exists. It’s definitely worth a look for anybody who is even vaguely interested.
And now, off to school again. Hurrah.