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Americans with Odd German Names

The largest ethnic group in the U.S. is Germans. However, they all came to the U.S. generations ago, and have since completely assimilated, to the extent that many don't even know they're German.

The country teems with Knapps, Schroeders, Schneiders (sometimes Anglicized to Snyder or Snider), among others. This website lets you check the geographic distribution of names all over the U.S.; you can see how common Schneiders are, for instance.

And that's just the Anglo-Saxons. There are also plenty of Jews, many of whom carry decorative names they received in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries: Himmelfarb, Rosenthal, Goldberg, Weinstein, Goldstein, etc. They tend to stick to the coasts, as this map 'o the Weinsteins shows you.

But my topic today is ordinary Americans with strange or enchanting (apparently) German surnames. A few examples:

That's all I can think of off the top of my head (which is all you get in a blog), but I'll try to add more as time permits.


  • Susan Ficken notes in comments that she's not quite a professor yet.
  • How could I possibly have forgotten Charles Krauthammer?! The name is so expressive, especially of his approach to foreign policy, on which he has plenty of modest, well-thought out opinions that have helped the Bush Administration usher in the era of peace and stability we're now enjoying.
  • For non-German speakers, I should say that some of these names could be translated in amusing ways. We'll leave Susan to one side for a moment, and concentrate on Sinnreich, which I'll translate as 'Kingdom of the Senses,' and Roehrkasse, which could mean 'pipe-cash register.'