top of page

Where is that in English?

When it comes to place names, getting from English to German and vice-versa can be challenging, but it's also loads of fun, and useful, to get the German names and English versions at our fingertips.

Most of us know that Deutschland is Germany, Wien is Vienna and maybe even that die Schweiz is Switzerland.

A few other places perhaps familiar include Bayern for Bavaria, München for Munich and Köln for Cologne.

But how about Siebenbürgen, Böhmen, Schlesien and Elsass-Lothringen? What makes these ones in particular so interesting to me is that today's maps don't show them in German-dominant areas, but they could be very important to someone doing some family research. Over the years, these regions have changed and are no longer have many German speakers (and some not at all). It's another example of how doing some family digging can help understand how nations and continents have changed. Your personal story can bring understanding to what was happening in Europe's history.

By the way, we know those places as Transylvania (a German-speaking mountain region of central Romania), Bohemia (northern Czech Republic, which had a German-speaking minority), Silesia (a former German province now the Polish region of Śląsk) and Alsace-Lorraine (formerly German-speaking, but annexed by France centuries ago; Germany and France fought over it repeatedly; the population today mostly speaks French.)

For me personally, I had ancestors come from Silesia, a.k.a Schlesien. The tricky part now is that it is in Poland. Lots of towns have changed names to Polish, including the hometown on my great-grandmother, Reinerz, now known as Duszniki-Zdrój. We visited it when I was a teenager and even got to see the outside of the local St. Anne's Church where my ancestor most likely worshiped. (It's also fun that we've an old 1884 Baedeker tour book. Apparently, there's a remarkable whale pulpit that I missed when we couldn't get into the church).

Here's a link to some picturesque postcards from when the town was still known as Bad (spa) Reinerz.


Would you like to share this piece with your audience? You have full permission to share as long as you include Pam’s bio and this link to sign up and keep in touch with us.

109 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All
bottom of page