girl holding up a 23 and me dna test box at a dirndl shop in chicago

When the DNA ancestry tests came out I was immediately intrigued... but I resisted for a long time. There was one commercial that straight-up made me not want to go through with the test. "Growing up we were German. We danced in a German dance group. I wore Lerderhosen... I decided to have the DNA tested... the big surprise was we weren't German at all." AH WHAT?! Hell NAH! I wasn't going to pay someone to turn my life upside down. I was convinced that if I took this test... I was going to have to throw in the dirndl towel and start my life over.

Years go by and it's Christmas time again and I need a gift for my parents. My sister and I decided that a 23andMe DNA test would be a fun gift so we went for it. They had a special before Thanksgiving that if you buy 2 you get the 3rd free. Monika says, "you should take it!" [insert panic and anxiety]. After purchasing the kits and pondering this idea, I realized that it doesn't matter what the results say, I'm still the same person and I might find out even more cool stuff about myself.

 Me and my Oma | 1991


So I did it. It was SO easy! Spit into tube - send tube to lab - get email results. Ready for my results?

Well... let's just say it was a lovely wave of relief when I saw my results. Quick background: My grandparents grew up in "German" towns in Yugoslavia. WAY back in the day, Maria Theresia said, "hey southern Germans... want to go to these areas down the Danube River (what was Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Romania) and we'll give you some free land to farm and live on?" "Hell ya! Let's do it!" Then after WWII, the whole area became... well... not fans of the Germans. The communist regime at the time decided it would best to send capable workers (of German ancestry) to be slaves in places like Russia and non-capable people like women, kids, and old people were moved to small towns and converted into camps to starve since they didn't need them. Hence the massive migration of the Donauschwaben to places like North and South America. With that in mind, being Donauschwaben, I was expecting to find much more Eastern European in the mix than 3.4%.

But the majority of my ancestry... German! YAY Rare Dirndl lives on haha! "We predict you had ancestors in Germany & Switzerland within the last 200 years." Well, 23andMe... you predict right. From the chats I had with my grandparents from talking to their parents etc, it's said that before moving down the Danube to Yugoslavia, my ancestors lived in the Black Forest region of Germany.

So now when people meet me and I explain what I do for a living and they respond with, "so... you're German then?" I can confidently say, "Yes. Yes I am!"

Ever wonder which dirndl style you are? Click here to take our quiz and find out now!

I grew up in a German Dance Group - but am I German
January 04, 2019 — Erika Neumayer


Ernst Szegõ said:

Same here….about ancestry except 9% Finland and Hungarian.

Elfriede Henry said:

I am in the same boat as you! I have not done an ancestry saliva test yet but I can say that mine will look like yours too! My parents are the immigrants and i am the first generation american.

Randy Marchesi said:

Cute story. I being the son of a German mother know i’m german. But knowing some history i wonder what else is in me. Maybe i’ll do the ancestry thing someday. As for the commercial i thought it was amusing but kinda silly and unlikely.

Doris said:

My grandparents were also in Yugoslavia and then sent back to Germany and ended up in the Pfalz. My son took a dna test and found out he was 50% Chinese and 50% German. Since his dad’s parents immigrated from China and mine from Germany, it’s safe to say our ancestors didn’t mix it up much before we came along😂

Doris k said:

We basically have the same family history, my mom even lost her sister in one of the starvation camps. I would love to know the name of the towns in Yugoslavia your family is from.

Elaine Tillinger said:

I always look forward to your posts and emails. Some day, I hope to own one of your fabulous Dirndl’s. I also used 23 and Me. Many Donauschwaben have similar results. I’m 88% German and French, Northern European, and the rest is Balkan, Eastern European, and Southern European. Interesting, but what really counts is the lineage of your family history. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to trace my family history from the time they were expelled, and ethnically cleansed back to France and Germany. DNA is fun and interesting, but ancestry research is truly rewarding.

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.