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President Obama will finally receive documentation of his citizenship, and a Swiss lecturer claims it’s enough to end the controversy over Obama’s birth – but the records aren’t from Hawaii.
They’re from a remote village in Switzerland.
Obama was named an honorary citizen of Switzerland in a July 13 press conference after a genealogist purportedly linked his ancestry to the Swiss village of Ried bei Kerzers, according to Swissinfo.ch, a publication of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.
Now the paperwork designating him an honorary citizen is reportedly on its way to Washington.
Ried bei Kerzers
“I’m proud,” Ried resident Martin Schindrig told Swissinfo.ch. “I think he’s a great guy. I know that people in the village were really happy about his election. That was only possible in the U.S. I can’t imagine having a black president here.”
He added, “America is a land of immigrants; it’s nice that it’s still the case.”
Following three months of investigation, Swiss archivist Hans Herren claims to have traced Obama’s family tree on his mother’s side to a villager from western Switzerland named Hans Gutknecht.
Alain Chardonnens, a history lecturer at the University of Fribourg who has denounced the Iraq war and translated Obama’s speeches into French, included the Swiss findings in his 2010 book “Barack Obama: The First 100 Days.”
He told Swissinfo.ch that proof of Obama’s Swiss roots should silence critics who challenge the president’s eligibility to be president.
“It was very important for him and for the Democratic Party in 2008,” Chardonnens explained. “The Republicans attacked his Arab name, Hussein. The Democrats also wanted to show the white voters that Obama also had white origins and that he was an American like everyone else.”
Swissinfo.ch published this illustration in its report to show President Obama’s purported Swiss ancestry
Chardonnens, an Obama fan, is also author of two other books published in French: “When Barack Obama, War Chief, Received the Nobel Peace Prize” and “Barack Obama: The Promise of America.”
He said he believes Democrats should consider evidence of Obama’s Swiss roots to be “good news.”
“We are coming up to the midterms,” he said. “The tea party is still attacking Obama. His birth certificate is still under attack. This brings new proof that he is an American just like everyone else.”
Chardonnens did not explain how the Swiss findings would prove Obama’s natural-born citizenship status in the U.S.
If the findings are accurate, Gutknecht would be Obama’s grandfather going back seven generations. Gutknecht was born in Ried in 1692.
Ried is a sleepy German-speaking village with wheat fields, farmhouses and quiet streets. It features one church, one store and a single gas station.
According to the Swiss report, when speculation of the town’s ties to Obama surfaced, numerous Swiss villagers with the last name Gutknecht came forward to claim an ancestral link to Obama.
That’s when the village council selected Herren to trace the lineage. Herren also discovered Hans Gutknecht’s 1692 baptism certificate.
Gutknecht purportedly moved to France in the early 1700s, and his son is said to have immigrated to Pennsylvania, changing his name from Gutknecht to Goodnight and marrying a woman named Maria Grunholtz.
Donald Beyer, U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, said Obama will be interested in the findings.
“The event provided an ideal opportunity for the embassy to celebrate the close relations that exist between our two countries,” the U.S. embassy told Swissinfo.
According to the report, the finding has been authenticated by the Fribourg state archives office, and now the certificate and family-tree documentation are being delivered to Obama by diplomatic post.
The Swiss publication noted the U.S. embassy said it could not comment on the “accuracy of the substance in the documents detailing the honorary citizenship.”