Welcome to RevisitGermany.com – your first destination on your journey to trace your ancestors’ footsteps in Germany!
ABOUT THIS BLOG
RevisitGermany.com provides travel planning tips and information about cities and towns in Germany as well as historical sightseeing attractions such as museums, tours or famous buildings.
This blog does not provide information about genealogy practices or ancestry research. Instead, it is a place for those, who have already found out that their ancestors came from Germany and maybe also know the exact town. So now they have decided to travel to Germany themselves in order to find out how their ancestors lived in the centuries prior to their emigration.
WHO IS THIS BLOG FOR?
The blog primarily acts as a travel planning resource for US Americans with German ancestry, but of course anyone interested in German history can come here to find out which places are worthwhile visiting when planning a (family) heritage trip to Germany.
Old houses in the city of Lübeck, a former Hanseatic Super Power in Northern Germany
My name is Sonja Irani and I am the founder and writer here at www.revisitgermany.com and www.revisiteurope.com. I was born and raised near the city of Osnabück, which is located in Lower Saxony, northwest Germany and grew up in a family with a multicultural background (more on that in “My Persian roots” further down below).
I also run a blog about film-inspired travel. On www.filmfantravel.com, I provide travel tips for cities and countries that have either featured as a film location or are mentioned as a setting in a film or series. On all of my blogs, my posts are based on my own travel experiences.
Furthermore, I am currently in the process of writing more in-depth travel guide books, which I plan to publish on Amazon.com. The first in the pipeline is a Historical Travel Guide to Germany. The following guides should be about Norway and Sweden.
Half history book and half travel guide, these books are aimed at giving an overview of the country’s history told through the stories of the ordinary people (such as your ancestors) and then point to specific museums and other historical sightseeing attractions, where you can find out more about how people (perhaps including your own ancestors) used to live in this country in former times. So stay tuned for that! 😉
My Persian roots
As you can see from my surname, I am not a 100% German. While my mother is German, my father is originally from India. Our surname is easily explained: Several generations before my father was born in India, his ancestors emigrated from Persia (the modern Iran) to India due to religious prosecution. When the Muslims came to power in Iran, the country’s old Persian Parsi faith, to which my dad and his family belong, became a threatened minority. Thus, when my Iranian ancestors settled in India, they became known as the “Iranis”.
Me in September 2019 in Oslo, Norway
Freelance German-English Translator and Proofreader since 2015
From 2011 to 2015, I lived and worked in London, UK for three and a half years. Since early 2015 I am back in Germany and run my own business as a self-employed Travel Writer, Translator and Proofreader. Freelance work comes with the great advantage of being able to work anywhere in the world – I just need my laptop and a Internet connection. That’s why I was able to travel a lot since the beginning of 2015.
I have worked in the translation and tourism industry for over ten years. Due to my previous work experiences gained in Germany, the US and the UK, I specialise in translations and editing for texts within the fields of Tourism Marketing and History / Ancestry Research.
For more information on my translation and proofreading services, check out my website sonja-irani.de.
My hometown of choice
When in Germany, I work from my home base in Bremen, which is the second largest city in northern Germany. I made this city my so-called “Wahlheimat” (which means “hometown of choice” in German). There were two reasons for that: First, Bremen has the perfect size for me (not too big, not too small, you’ve got everything you need in a city, but not the crowds of people you get in cities like London or Berlin). Secondly, I am passionate to promote my home region of northern Germany to visitors and thus like to emphasise that Bremen is the perfect base to explore the rest of the country. The North may be a lesser known region than the South of Germany, but no less beautiful and exciting for visitors to discover. After all, Germany is so much more than Neuschwanstein Castle, oversized beer mugs and Oktoberfest…
Bremen’s historic town centre and our very own “Statue of Liberty”, also known as “the Roland”!
Tour Guide in Bremen since 2018
I have always had a passion for history, so in 2018 I decided to make this hobby into a profession by becoming a professional tour guide in my hometown of choice: Bremen.
Whenever I am not travelling myself, I love to showing guests around Bremen and sharing the lesser known stories with them. As such, I am one of the official tour guides who get commissions for carrying out walking tours for the official tourist organisation of Bremen BTZ (Bremer Touristik-Zentrale).
In addition, I offer my own emigration-themed guided walking tours in Bremen, on which I like to make “history come alive” by telling the stories of the city’s former inhabitants – all with a link to emigration and immigration to the city and the wider region in Germany.
Book your own tour
If you are looking to book a guided emigration-themed walking tour in Bremen with me as your guide, feel free to get in touch with me via the contact form at the end of this page. I am looking forward to hearing from you!
For more information on my tour guiding services and prices, check out my website sonja-irani.de.
HOW I GOT INTO ANCESTRY RESEARCH
It all started when one day, back in 2005, two gentlemen from America knocked on the door of my parents’ house in Ankum. They had come all the way from Baltimore, Maryland to find out more about their ancestor Arnold Fleddermann, which they had traced back to my small hometown in the North-West of Germany. We found out that Arnold was a cousin of our direct ancestor and that he had emigrated to America as early as the 1850s.
My German genealogy
My mom has since researched the German side of own family history, which is mostly made up of rather poor peasant farmers (“Heuerleute” in German) who all lived in the same region in or around my hometown of Ankum, Lower Saxony for as far we can trace them back. So nothing too exciting there. 🙂
A historic farmer’s house in the open air museum village Cloppenburg (near Osnabrück, Lower Saxony)
A royal connection to Sweden?
In 2019, however, my mom made a new discovery, which was that back in the 18th century, there was an illegitimate daughter (born out of wedlock) in our family tree for which a certain Daniel von Schwietering was named as the father. He was a minor noble and most likely not the first-born son. Still, the fact that he was registered in the church baptism entry as the father of a child with a maid was very unusual at the time. The “von Schwieterings” were a noble family probably originally from Scandinavia and this may explain why my Ancestry.com DNA Test showed that I am 4 % Swedish. But this could also have to do with the fact that the Germanic tribes of the Anglo-Saxons emigrated from Northern Germany and Scandinavia to England and that it just shows a certain DNA relation.
My DNA according to Ancestry.com (last updated in May 2019)
My present day connection to Sweden
4 % Swedish or not, in late August 2019, I moved to Sweden to live and study here for one year. Exactly ten years after I completed my Bachelor’s degree in “Multilingual Communication” (Translation and Business) at the University of Applied Sciences, Cologne back in 2009, I decided it was time to go back to university. Since I have worked in tourism for a while now and I am really passionate about everything related to travel and tourism, I opted to study for a one-year Master’s degree in “Tourism Destination Development” at the University of Dalarna, Sweden.
My Master Thesis and Call for Research Participants
Currently, I am writing on my Master Thesis about ancestral tourism to Germany by US American travellers. If all goes according to plan, I will complete my Master’s degree in June 2020.
As of April 2020, I am still looking for research participants for interviews on memorable tourism experiences while on an ancestral trip in Germany! So if you are from the US, have been to Germany on an ancestry-inspired trip in the last three years and would like to participate in an online interview with me, please contact me via the form below! I am looking forward to hearing from you!
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU
You found out that your ancestors were from Germany? Perhaps you even know the town or region they emigrated from? Now you would like to come to Germany yourself in order to find out how your ancestors lived? Well, then I hope that this blog provides a good, first overview of where you can go to find out more, what’s really worthwhile visiting and what else you need to know if you’re planning a family heritage trip to Germany.
For a wider approach to ancestral tourism in other European countries, check out my ancestry-inspired travel blog for the whole of Europe called RevisitEurope.com.
I am always happy to hear from you! 🙂 For any comments, questions or collaboration requests, please contact me via my LinkedIn profile.