Dr. Thomas Macho (Univ.-Prof. i.R.)
Direktor des IFK
Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften |
Kunstuniversität Linz in Wien
Email: office@thomasmacho.de

 Genealogical Trees, Heredity, and Genius

 Stammbäume, Freiheitsbäume und Geniereligion. Anmerkungen zur Geschichte genealogischer Systeme

Wenn Sie auf diesen Text verweisen möchten:
in: Sigrid Weigel (Hrsg.): Genealogie und Genetik. Schnittstellen zwischen Biologie und Kulturgeschichte, Berlin (Akademie-Verlag) 2002, S. 15-43

von Thomas Macho

Lecture to be held at the Einstein-Forum Potsdam, June 5, 1999

Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,
Now I know none of you expect me to present an even halfway complete history of genealogical systems within the next few minutes. Instead of this history which, by the way, still remains to be written I will provide an outline of three chapters of a genealogy of genealogical systems, all of which have been connected in some way to radical historical upheavals. First of all, I will discuss the transformation of the genealogical tree (also in the form of the so-called arbor porphyriana) into the tree of the Spanish ars combinatoria in the 12th and 13th century, secondly, the transformation of the genealogical tree into the Tree of Liberty (during the American and French Revolution), and thirdly, the transformation of a certain kind of »genius religion« in the 19th and early twentieth century into modern eugenics. The three sections of my talk come under the following headings: The Spanish Trees (1), Trees of Liberty and Christmas Trees (2), Breeding Geniuses (3).

1. The Spanish Trees

It is a familiar fact that the Book of Genesis incorporated a series of elements from the Babylonian or Assyrian myths of creation, and altered them significantly. The story of the Tree of Paradise was subjected also to alterations. While the Babylonian tradition appears to acknowledge only one kind of Tree of Paradise, i. e. the Life Trees, which are cared for and guarded by the Keruben, strange, winged semi-beings, the first Book of Moses refers to two trees: the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the Tree of Immortality and the Tree of Science. As we all know, man's first parents were not only cast out of paradise, because they ate from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, but also to prevent them from eating from the Tree of Life (Gen. 3,22); Kafka was thus justified in speculating that Original Sin may have have been caused by not eating from the Tree of Life: »Wir sind nicht nur deshalb sündig, weil wir vom Baum der Erkenntnis gegessen haben, sondern auch deshalb, weil wir vom Baum des Lebens noch nicht gegessen haben.« (Betrachtungen über Sünde, Leid, Hoffnung und den wahren Weg, § 83) »We have not only sinned because we have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, but also because we haven't yet eaten from the Tree of Life.« The eating of fruit from the wrong tree not only symbolizes the renunciation of immortality, but also the origin of all systems of kinship; the Tree of Knowledge is virtually the first genealogical tree, not because our progenitors ate from it, but because they embarked on the project of human reproduction in its shade. It is no coincidence that the chapter on Original Sin in the Book of Genesis is followed by the story of the two sons and their fratricidal conflict (4,3-16), then a list of Cain's descendants (4,17-24), and finally, a genealogical list of the patriarchs after Adam (5,1-32). Since then, one could almost say, the Tree of Knowlege that genealogical tree remains the only Tree of Life, the only hope of immortality, left to us ....

The Tree of Knowledge has assumed various forms in the course of cultural history. Certainly from the Middle Ages on it was portrayed as the Tree of Origins and Lineage in numerous variations: as a geometrically ordered construction (only vaguely reminiscent of a vegetable organism); as an almost chaotic figure, resembling a modern mind map; occasionally, it was portrayed as arbor consanguinitatis or affinitatis, demonstrating the connection between various degrees of relationship; and later again, as a dynastic system to justify claims to power. It was occasionally portrayed as the genealogical tree of Jesus, as the root of Jesse, who, with reference to Jesaja 11,1, leaves his mostly reclining father David to display the busts or full images of the ancestors of Christ in his branches which, incidentally resemble creepers more than branches. It was also depicted as a philosophical Tree of Deduction: an ontological plant that promised to lead from the ens or substantia to the concrete homo, be it Plato or Petrus/Paulus. Genealogical trees classified the world: firstly, by conferring upon it a temporal spine, and secondly, by attempting to hierarchically classify the genera and species of being. The first Philosopher's Tree is, incidentally, attributed to the Neoplatonist Porphyrios (233-304); for example, in the version by Petrus Hispanus, doctor, philosopher and later Pope Johannes XXI. (1210/20-1277), the following stages between substantia and homo were defined: substantia (corporea vel incorporea), corpus (animatum vel inanimatum), animatum corpus (sensibile vel insensibile), animal (rationale vel irrationale), rationale animal (mortale vel immortale), homo (sortes vel Plato).

Petrus Hispanus was born in Lisbon. This fact is significant since it indicates the geographical proximity of the author to a culture, which until the late 13th century stood out for its remarkable climate of religious and intellectual tolerance. It was precisely under Arabic rule a fact I like to stress in order to challenge current predictions of the apparent inevitability of the »clash of civilizations« that Spain experienced a heyday: translation schools were set up (i. e. in Toledo) and developments in the fields of philosophy, medicine and astronomy extended right across cultural-religious boundaries between Jews, Christians and Muslims. This heyday, which could not even be seriously undermined by crusades, plots by Catholic aristocratic elites, and an increasingly vengeful Reconquista, came about thanks to the western acceptance of Aristotle, which was encouraged by the Arabic judge and doctor Ibn Ruschd, known as Averroës (1126-1198), and the Jewish doctor and philosopher Moses Maimonides (1135-1204); Averroës and Maimonides and their great predecessor Salomon Ibn Gabirol (1020-1070) were natives of Córdoba. Saragossa was home to Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia (1240-1291), who dedicated his work to the prophetic Cabbala. From around 1200, the Cabbala attracted a rapidly growing number of followers in Spain and southern France, and the Zohar the Cabbalistic »Book of Brilliance« was written circa 1275. But not alone Jewish mysticism flourished in Spain around this time, but also Islamic and Christian mysticism, as if the experience of peaceful coexistence had inspired a kind of universal religious movement in the three world religions.

Perhaps it was precisely this mysticism that also triggered a remarkable reform of the traditional genealogical trees. In the existing spirit of cultural exchange, it obviously became more important to develop a dynamic model of combinatorics between the different traditions, than to cling to the hierarchical schematism of genealogy or of the porphyric trees. In »Liber de gentili et tribus sapientibus«, the Catalan philosopher Ramon Lull or Raimundus Lullus (1232-1316), himself an avowed protagonist of the Spanish convivencia, developed the contours of a dialogue between the religions, which also assigned a new structural meaning to the trees. It is no coincidence that the three representatives of the religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (in this book) sit down beneath five trees to address the heathen the Greek philosopher, as it were. The trees under which the discussion partners convene symbolize their respective traditions, while the fifth tree stands for the attempt at synthesis, the Lullian ars combinatoria. The ars combinatoria Lull also constructed it as a system of concentric discs, which could be regulated like an astrolabium designed to analyse concepts transformed the trees into tables, based on which conceptual structures could be generated without any hierarchical deductive constraints. The Lullian ars increased the complexity of conceptual organisation so considerably that it even influenced the wonder chambers of Baroque science; this increased complexity resulted from a rejection of the genealogical and deductive tree, whose influence can be judged from the fact that Lull contrary to all the evidence of subsequent tables and catalogues tried to retain the image of the tree. Incidentally, this loyalty to the tree was also typical for the so-called sephirotic trees, which, in the Spanish Cabbala (with reference to the Sepher Jezira, a key mystical work on numbers and letters from the 6th century), exposed a wealth of cross references to neoplatonic elemental doctrines, medical and cosmological funds of knowledge. Even the sephirotic trees no longer looked like trees: they resembled complicated mental maps, which even tempted illustrators to carve them in the contours of a tree. The Spanish trees, Lullian or sephirotic, and this is my first thesis were rooted in a manifest cultural criticism of the genealogical trees, a polemic against the intellectual and political implications of the arbor porphyriana.

2. Trees of Liberty and Christmas Trees

Throughout the history of the imagery and concepts of genealogical systems, the tree has nevertheless remained the predominant structural model: today, databases are sometimes organised like trees, and even the history of evolution or the development of art trends and styles can be easily linked to the image of the tree. Norbert Elias made the following impassioned claim: »In der Tat kann man das Wachstum des Wissens mit dem eines Baumes vergleichen: im Holz des älteren Baumes bleibt seine Oberflächengestalt als junger Baum immer noch als eine innere Schicht oder ein Ring innerhalb der größeren Gestalt sichtbar.« (Engagement und Distanzierung, 104) »One can actually compare the growth of knowledge to the growth of a tree: inside the trunk of an old tree, the surface shape of a young tree remains visible as an inner layer or ring within the greater shape.« In their attempt to dismantle conservative models of the systematics of knowledge, even Deleuze und Guattari merely shifted from the concept of the tree to the roots of lichen and fungi: the rhizome. Trees are evidently good models for the representation of complex relationships, for at least three reasons. First of all, trees are dual-embranchment systems; they branch out in the roots and and in the crown, a feature which transfers easily to temporal systems: the roots symbolize the past, the leaves or fruits stand for the future, the trunk represents the present, in which past and future are united. Secondly, trees are three-dimensional structures, but even a two-dimensional projection conveys their surplus complexity: each tree structure automatically contains an abundance of meanings; meanings which do not spring from its present, two-dimensional projection, but from a previous awareness of its three-dimensional form. The third and final reason is that trees are self-referential: the principles of trees are best applied to trees themselves. The specification of different genera and species (coniferous trees, deciduous trees) testifies to a remarkable morphological diversity, which, however, does not challenge the homogeneous principle of the structure, the category of the tree: we instantly recognize almost every tree for what it is, irrespective of whether it is located in Canada, the Brasilian Rainforest, the Grunewald here of Berlin, or a Japanese Bonsai garden.

It thus comes as less of a surprise to learn that trees also played a prominent role in the founding of modern nations and states: I refer here, of course, to the Trees of Liberty. In the course of escalating tensions between the English colonies in North America and the homeland, the first revolts took place in Boston in summer 1765: the issue, as you will know, was the implementation of stamp taxes passed by the English Parliament. In the early hours of August 14, 1765, effigies of the Boston-born Lord Bute, the English Premier, and Andrew Oliver, the revenue commissioner for Massachusetts, were hung on trees. The news travelled fast, and as soon as the names of the tax commissioners in charge of the neighbouring provinces leaked out, straw effigies were hung on prominently located elms and beech trees all over the city. On September 11, 1765, a notice was posted on the Boston elm, containing the following inscription: »The Tree of Liberty, August 14th 1765«.

In the wake of this event, several other towns announced their Trees of Liberty. Most of the notices and demonstrations were organized by a movement calling itself the »Sons of Liberty«; this association was founded shortly after the introduction of the stamp tax in New York, and later managed to gain ground in the provinces. The old elm of Boston was actually pronounced as the official assembly venue place of the »Sons of Liberty«, and the surrounding square was christened »Liberty Hall«. On December 17, 1765, Andrew Oliver was finally forced to take a public oath (called »Tree ordeal«) in front of the tree that he would make no further moves to implement the tax. When the tax decree was repealed in May, 1766, celebrations were held beneath the elm. The Tree of Liberty served as a key patriotic symbol: »Persons showing too little patriotic fervour were placed on a black list, which was then inserted into the elm's branches.« (Susanne Anderegg: Der Freiheitsbaum im Zeitalter des Rationalismus, 82)

Perhaps the French troops who took part in the American struggle for independence brought the Tree of Liberty to France, or maybe even Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine or Thomas Jefferson, who was appointed Franklin's successor to the French Court in 1785; Jefferson wrote the following words in a famous letter to Colonel Smith: »The Tree of Liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants; this is its natural dung.« In any case, the Tree of Liberty had already caught on throughout France by the time of the Peasant Revolts in 1788 und 1789; Land registers were burnt under its branches and feudal emblems were sometimes hung from the branches. By 1792, the Tree of Liberty prevailed as the offical revolutionary cult symbol. At the start of June, 1792, the trees were planted on every corner of even the smallest hamlets, the number approaching almost sixty thousand in the whole country. Of course, the Royalists tried to chop down the Trees of Liberty by night, or at least to spray them with vitriol. From then on, the trees were guarded by wooden fences, iron railings, and watchmen, and anyone who damaged a Tree of Liberty faced heavy penalties. On September 5, 1793, nine people in Rouen were sentenced to death for chopping down one of the trees, and even up to 1796, all »crimes« against Trees of Liberty were classified as counter-revolutionary and severely punished. As a matter of interest, the majority of trees were accepted as Trees of Liberty: Oaks, elms, limes and chestnut trees. Poplars, however, captured the hearts and minds of the general population, since the French name »peuplier« was so close to »peuple« (people).

Popular folklore and history often trace the Trees of Liberty back to the judgement- and memorial trees (»Friedenslinde«), including the Maypole. However, it seems to make more sense to interpret the Tree of Liberty as a blatant criticism of the hierarchical structures of feudal society, as a manifest symbol of protest against the validity of genealogical trees. This interpretation is especially supported by the American history of Trees of Liberty: with the help of straw puppets and effigies, the trees were actually decorated like »genealogical trees«, albeit symbolizing the reverse. The genealogical tree, to which the names of dignitaries were attached, no longer signified the genealogical system, but its suspension, with black lists replacing birth registers. While the genealogical tree expressed the diversity of births, the Tree of Liberty stressed the ideal of common origins, a collectively shared rebirth of society. In a famous letter to D'Alembert in 1758 concerning his proposal to establish a theatre in Geneva, Rousseau also vigorously propagated the idea of the trees: »Under conditions of freedom, happiness too flourishes wherever people gather. Plant a tree bedecked with flowers in the centre of a square, and people will gather to celebrate. Or even better: make a show of the spectators, make them the actors, ensure that each one identifies and loves himself in his neighbour, and people will develop a stronger sense of solidarity.« Of course, even Rousseau knew the potential military implications of this solidarity the willingness to water the Tree of Liberty with the »blood of patriots«, as it were and therefore continued: »Every year we have inspections, public competitions, and elect kings in crossbow and gun-shooting, and sailing. One cannot have enough of such useful, pleasurable events, and one cannot have enough of such kings.« (Schriften I, 462 f.)

The Trees of Knowledge (the genealogical trees, that is) were primarily replaced by the trees of shared origins and a nationally envisioned immortality: as secular Trees of Life. These trees of life, however, hardly reached German soil at all. Instead of the Trees of Liberty, the Christmas Tree became established in the »belated nation«. National sensibilities were also roused in celebration: but it was a ceremony celebrated with reference to the intimacy of the family. In a systematically Platonistic dialogue concerning »Die Weihnachtsfeier«, the Christmas celebration (dated 1806), Friedrich Schleiermacher praised the »intimacy« of this celebration as an indication of the »lost origin« that had to be restored within the heart of the bourgeois family. It was taken for granted that this »origin« had to be reinvented each time on behalf of this loss: in the form of family hymns, the decorated Christmas tree, the practice of collective distribution of gifts (»Bescherung«). Most of the customs mentioned hardly existed prior to the 19th century. Even the practice of decorating trees and sticking them with candles goes back no further than 1820. The Christmas tree succeeded as a celebratory symbol, and the revolutionary criticism of genealogical trees was reduced to the rituals of a family, who adopted them in their attempt to identify with an imaginary Christian »mankind«. I maintain, therefore in my second thesis on the history of genealogical systems a) that the Trees of Liberty of the American and French Revolution expressed a parody and criticism of the feudal principle of genealogical trees, whereas b) the German Christmas tree, which was a real success in cultural historical terms, contributed in its part to a parody and rejection of the revolutionary principle of the Tree of Liberty.

3. Breeding Geniuses

As a counter-model of a genealogically structured society, in which all members acquire their status through birthright, Nature was proclaimed at the turn of the 19th century: the same Trees of Liberty, which were simply uprooted and driven into the earth like stakes (to wither shortly after), functioned as symbols of an imagined, unspoiled naturalness. The protagonist of such a society, which was seemingly free of genealogical prejudice, had already been conceived by Rousseau: the Wunderkind, a kind of prodigy or Genius. Geniuses are the secular Gods of the 19th and early 20th century, the »selfmade men« of nature and fortunate talents. Immanuel Kant described it as follows: »Genie ist das Talent (Naturgabe), welches der Kunst die Regel gibt. Da das Talent, als angebornes produktives Vermögen des Künstlers, selbst zur Natur gehört, so könnte man sich auch so ausdrücken: Genie ist die angeborne Gemütsanlage (ingenium), durch welche die Natur der Kunst die Regel gibt.« (Kritik der Urteilskraft, B 181) »Genius is the talent (natural gift) that imposes rules on art. Since the talent, being the hereditary productive property of the artist, already belongs to nature, we can express it as follows: Genius is the hereditary mental disposition (ingenium), through which Nature imposes rules on art.« Geniuses are »Günstlinge der Natur«, »nature's favourites« (B 184), and as such are necessarily original; they do not imitate, but create new works unrelated to anything that has gone before. Due to this quality, they stand in the sharpest conceivable contrast (which Kant points out) to their ancient namesake, the Roman Genius; since Genius, the Roman version of the Greeks' agathos daimon, was not exactly presented as an individual quality, but as the transindividual personification of a name, the bond with a series of ancestors. At all birthday celebrations in ancient Rome (which, by the way, were celebrated for a long time on a monthly basis), the »birthday childs« paid tribute to their genius and honoured it with sacrificial gifts. The Romans' genius functioned practically as a kind of guardian angel, as an ancestral spirit and representative of past generations.

Modern geniuses, by contrast, do not look to the past but to the future. They are the heroes of a parareligious trend, which the scientific historian Edgar Zilsel, later associated with the »Vienna Circle«, defined as »genius religion« in a perceptive analysis published by Braumüller in 1918. With his definition of the dogmas of this »religion« of the 19th century, especially at the Fin de siecle, a belief in the national cult of heroes, bourgeois dreams of »welthistorische Individuen«, »world historical figures«, of artists and scientists, fused with an effusive, pantheistic mysticism Zilsel characterized first the notion of the rareness of geniuses, who, in comparison to the masses, are distinguished by »almost divine creativity« and »in contrast to all others, form their ideas, opinions and judgements entirely independently«, second, the notion of the »eternal alliance« of all geniuses, who despite their individual originality feel »a common bond, as brothers of a noble community« (in which perhaps the privy councillor Goethe and Professor Hegel pay hommage to Consul Bonaparte); and third, the notion of the greater immortality of all geniuses, which is directly due to the fact that they went »unrecognized« during their lifetime. Since their »contemporaries«, who naturally belong to the masses, are not capable of understanding geniuses, and although they cannot even distinguish between brilliance and shallowness, they nonetheless hate their geniuses as if guided by dark presentiments and seem to want to suppress the great men either by blunt indifference or brutal resistance.« (Die Geniereligion, 59-61); only future generations acknowledge the brilliant genius, and henceforth elevate him to celestial levels and ceremonially worship him. Geniuses are posthumously transformed into stars, stars, whose long-quenched rays illuminate the present. It is no coincidence that astral metaphors were the most popular rhetorical idioms of the »genius religion«. From Houston Stewart Chamberlain's monumental work on Immanuel Kant (and a series of other geniuses), Zilsel cites the claim that genius is a »cosmic phenomenon, just like the Sun or the Sirius« (239); geniuses are stars, who create their undying works »only for posterity«, and, Zilsel summarizes, since they only »produce for posterity, they are all futuristic musicians, futuristic painters, futuristic poets and futuristic philosophers: futurists.« (60).

Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose work »Representative Men« was practically a »bible« of the »genius religion«, drew a novel conclusion from this »futuristic« change of direction by geniuses: in 1850, almost a decade before the publication of Darwin's »On the origin of species by means of natural selection«, he wrote of our desire for future geniuses: »What compensation a great man is for whole generations of pygmies. Every mother wishes for even one of her sons to be a genius, even if the rest are just average.« (Repräsentanten der Menschheit, 25). Since »we haven't recognized the ultimate and true significance of a genius, as long as we assign him an original and independent meaning. The moment he stops using us as a cause, he uses us far more as a consequence« i.e. as the producer of an intellectual further development. »There exist great men, so that others can become greater. The purpose of organic nature is refinement who can determine the limit of refinement?« (31). Suddenly the genius appears to be a future product of one of nature's endeavours, who in a present cut off from all visions of origin, birth and provenance, only distinguishes reasons for new expansion and development. Geniuses are people who cannot be traced from their past; they must therefore be projected into the future: as forerunners of »even greater men«, who will emerge from a »natural selection« of »representative men«. Futuristic genealogy dreams of its future procreation: put more crudely, »breeding«, regardless of whether this »breeding« is seen as a project of nature or as a cultural educational effort.

»Great men exist so that others can become even greater« »Es gibt große Männer, damit noch größere werden mögen.« The futurisation of genealogy under the sign of genius is evident in a number of pertinent works, not only from the milieu of so-called »black pedagogics«. Wilhelm Ostwald introduced his once widely read collection of biographies of natural scientists, which was published under the title »Große Männer«, »Great Men« in 1909 in Leipzig, with a question from allegedly a Japanese student on how major intellects could be »bred«, and he concludes his book with a sequence of reflections on the status of the university as a »breeding institution«, »Züchtungsanstalt«, for scientific geniuses. Shortly afterwards, also in Leipzig, the first German translation of Francis Galton's »Hereditary Genius« (written in 1869) was published by Klinkhardt. Otto and Anna Schapire-Neurath from Vienna performed the translation. Otto Neurath later became Minister in the Munich Räterepublik, a member of the »Vienna Circle«, author of the »Protokollsatzlehre«, sociologist, inventor of »Bildstatistik«, and in this capacity a propagandist for the literacy movement in Africa. What is even more astonishing is the enthusiastic foreword the Neuraths wrote to Galton's book: »Bei seinen (Galtons) Untersuchungen über Vererbung hatte er von Anfang an ein Problem vor Augen: Wie kann man eine menschliche Rasse züchten, die unseren Idealen am meisten entspricht? [...] Das Ergebnis eines reichen Lebens war eine neue Disziplin, die Eugenik, die Lehre von der guten Zeugung. Galtons Untersuchungen über Eugenik sind in erster Reihe in den »Sociological Papers«, dem Organ der Sociological Society niedergelegt, es sind dies die Arbeiten »Restrictions in Marriage«, »Studies in National Eugenics« und »Eugenic as a Factor in Religion«. Wir hoffen, auch diese Arbeiten bald dem deutschen Publikum vorlegen zu können.«

In Galton's »studies on heredity, he identified the problem from the start: How can we breed a race of humans who best match up to our ideal? [...] The result of a rich life was a new discipline, eugenics, the doctrine of good breeding. Galton's studies on eugenics were principally published in »Sociological Papers«, the organ of the Sociological Society, and were entitled »Restrictions in Marriage«, »Studies in National Eugenics« and »Eugenics as a Factor in Religion«. We also hope to be able to present these works soon to the German public.« (Genie und Vererbung, VI)

The foreword culminated in the following final paragraph: »Wer mit offenem Auge die Entwicklung der Zukunft vorauszuschauen versucht, sieht als die größten Probleme, welche die Menschheit in immer stärkerer Weise bewegen werden, die Verbesserung der sozialen Ordnung und die Verbesserung unserer Rasse, zwei Ziele, die eng miteinander zusammenhängen. Der Ruhm aber, in entscheidendem Maße die Bewegung für die systematische Verbesserung der Rasse in unserem Zeitalter eingeleitet zu haben, gebührt Francis Galton und seiner Eugenik.« »Whoever attempts to predict future developments with open eyes, sees that the major problem to increasingly preoccupy people will be how to improve the social system and to improve our race, two goals, which are very closely linked. However, the distinction of inaugurating the movement for the systematic improvement of the race in our era has been earned by Francis Galton and his eugenics.« (VI f.)

I will finish up now, but let me first ask you to excuse me for merely presenting a rather rough outline of historical episodes from the history of genealogical systems. Criticism of these genealogical systems my first thesis was first articulated during the Spanish convivencia in the 12th und 13th century, in the course of the transformation of genealogical trees into trees of Lullian or Cabbalistic ars combinatoria. During the second half of the 18th century, this criticism became radicalised: in the Utopia of a socially shared, »natural« origin which was symbolized by the Tree of Liberty a parody of the genealogical tree, as I claim in my second thesis. These Trees of Liberty succeeded in Germany, however, merely as Christmas trees, and became tainted by the burden of political familiarisation (from Schleiermacher's »Weihnachtsfeier« to the Nazi cult surrounding »yule trees«). The romanticisation of »lost« origins or origins »rediscovered« in nature, however, gave rise to a kind of temporal reversal of perspectives: under the sign of the genius cult at the latest, a secular, pseudo-religion of the late 19th and early 20th century, genealogy became futurised: for the sake of »breeding« great and »representative men«. My third and final thesis: I consider this reversal of perspective to be one of the crucial implications in the new relationship between genetics and genealogy, a subject which does not only interest participants at this conference, but will continue to preoccupy us well into the next century.

Many thanks for your courtesy and attention.
Translation by Lynda O'Riordan