When Judit Antal, Ph.D., of Pécs, Hungary, took the MyHeritage DNA test, she was expecting to confirm what she had been told about her own origins and learn a little more about her family’s past.
Instead, her results threw everything she had believed about her family into question.
As a young girl, Judit always had a natural interest in her family history. She was told that she was 50% Jewish from her father’s side, which is where she got her first name, her brown eyes, and her brown wavy hair. She was also told that she might be about 25% German, possibly coming from her mother’s father.
“I heard lots of stories about my family history,” says Judit, who holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology and microbial genetics. “I never questioned them at all. I had no doubt that they were true — at least most of them.”
“When you hear stories about your relatives, you not only trust them, but can also easily find yourself binding emotionally to these stories,” Judit goes on. “For example, knowing how cute your father or mother was, hearing those funny old stories about them. Or how deeply sad and cruel it might have been when the wealth and lives of lots of family members were taken due to wars or various episodes in history.”
Well, when she received her Ethnicity Estimate, she was in for a shock: she had absolutely no percentage of any Jewish or German ethnicity. Instead, she found something she had never expected to see: she was around 20% English! “So it is like one of my grandparents was at least 75% English!” she says. “Here in Hungary, we do not really have anything like that within the population!”
Being unable to explore the possibilities on her father’s side, Judit began to wonder whether the English ethnicity had come from her mother’s side. In the past few years, she had started to suspect that the man who raised her mother was not her biological father. She had heard a story that her grandmother was in love with a local policeman — but neither he nor any of his relatives had any known connection to England. The same grandmother also worked at a local hotel and was likely to have come in contact with people of different nationalities, even while Hungary was behind the Iron Curtain.
Without exact medical documentation of her grandmother’s pregnancy with her mother, Judit estimates that her mother was conceived sometime between November of 1951 and January 1952. Judit decided to search the digital archives of the local newspaper to see what was being reported during that period. “What I found was something really strange,” she says. “During 1951, there was nothing remarkable. But then, starting from October 1951, dozens of articles began to appear with various news items from around the world. These political messages became more and more frequent and closer geographically with time over the next few months. Is it possible that my real grandfather was an English secret agent in service?”
Right now, all she has to go on is speculation, and she’s planning to dig deeper into her mother’s genes to solve the mystery. In the meantime, her mother is delighted and intrigued by what Judit has found. “I always start conversations with my mother by saying, ‘God save the Queen!’” Judit laughs.
Some people might be disappointed or upset by discovering that the truth is so radically different from what they had believed before, but not Judit. “I was relieved that not a single one of the stories about our origins was confirmed to be true,” she says. “I feel free and joyful instead. So the way I feel has changed in general. As a result of this, my relationships and communication must have changed as well.”
She is very grateful to MyHeritage for starting off her quest for the truth. “MyHeritage led me to information I was happy to learn, maybe the best I could have ever hoped for.”
“It is always nice to know the truth, your real origins,” says Judit. “That can be the greatest thing. Maybe it’s something you already knew about, so confirming it could be cool, give you a sense of your place in the world. But if you find out something else — well, you get a chance to experience the truth.”
“I believe that it’s best to live your life according to who you are, your own potential,” Judit goes on. “And I think family history research might be a really good way to manage that.”
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Source: My Heritage