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The Other French Germans

Many people think of French Germans as from the Alsace-Lorraine area, and many of them were. But not all.

During the 1500’s, a full third of France adopted Protestantism; the Counter-Reformation ended that- many reverted to Catholicism, others moved abroad, with many moving to Prussia, around Berlin- by 1700, one-fifth of Berlin was French-speaking, and they remained French-speaking until siding with the rest of Germany against Napoleon by 1809.

LaCroix > Kreuz ('the cross')

LeJeune > Jung ('young'n')

LaForge > Schmidt ('the forge, smith')

DePré > Wiese ('meadow')

Hareng > Hering ('herring')

Sauvage > Wild ('wild, savage')

Others never have dropped the French spelling, for instance, the Berlin author of the late 1800's Fontane, or one of the early Romantic poets Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, or Erich Maria Remarque, author of All Quiet on the Western Front

Some simply Germanized the pronunciation, like a major Berlin writer Theodor Fontane; the Huguenot Boudemont’s great-grandson became a famed scholar as Buttmann (rhymes with Put-on).

When some of their descendants moved to the New World, their French name could mislead you to thinking they were Alsatian or French- well, they had once been French, but not for a long time. Keep your eyes peeled as you trace your family- ancestors can be sneaky that way!


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