1. German Olympic Sports Confederation head Dirk Schimmelpfennig: Dirk Moldy-Penny
Why on earth someone ever decided that “Moldy Penny” was a suitable surname, we’ll never know. Ancestry.com and Focus magazine say that it was a nickname for misers who let their pennies become moldy because they never spent them.
Whether the family still carries on that personality trait is yet another question.
2. National football star Bastian Schweinsteiger: Bastian Pig-Climber
Schweinsteiger’s last name could literally translate to pig-climber, but more likely it means pig-overseer, like on a farm.
As if his full last name didn’t sound silly enough, it has also given the Man United midfielder a regrettable nickname: Schweini (piggy).
He’s not the only one with a lamentable last name: Former national team captain Phillip Lahm is one of the best players Germany has produced in recent years, leading his team to the 2014 World Cup victory. But his surname in German means lame, feeble or slow.
3. Mayor of Düsseldorf Thomas Geisel: Thomas Hostage
There’s also the River Geisel in Lower Saxony, but we do wonder how often in life Geisel has gotten threats of being kidnapped – it could get confusing: “We’ve taken Hostage hostage.”
4. Left Party leader Sahra Wagenknecht: Sahra Wagon Servant
The word Knecht means servant or farm labourer, so it seems the Die Linke (Left Party) leader has come a long way since her family’s presumed more humble beginnings.
5. Author and journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer: Jürgen Death-Yards
Ok so this one doesn’t exactly translate. But Tod does mean death, and Höfe are courtyards, so naturally our thoughts jump to the morbid when hearing the name of this journalist, who was also once a member of the German parliament (Bundestag) and later became the first Western reporter to get embedded with Isis.
6. Actress Hannah Herzsprung: Hannah Heart-Leap
Watching this 34-year-old Hamburg native on screen might just make your Herz leap if you have a crush on the actress, who has appeared in the 2008 German-American drama The Reader.
And it seems she comes from a line of people with feel-good family names: Her mother is designer Barbara Engel (Angel).
7. Decorated Nazi officer Erich Bärenfänger: Erich Bear-Catcher
So this guy isn’t so much famous as he is infamous: he was honoured by the Nazis with an award for extreme bravery and leadership on the battlefield.
And he stood by Adolf Hitler’s forces until the very end, taking his own life when things went south in the Battle of Berlin.
8. Germany’s Next Topmodel contestant Denise Dahinten: Denise Back-There
A photo posted by Denise Dahinten (@denisedahinten) on Jul 30, 2016 at 4:31pm PDT
Unfortunately the aspiring model did get left behind when she was on the Heidi Klum show in 2007.
9. German composer Carl Bratfisch: Carl Fried-Fish
This Prussian musician composed works such as the Steinmetz March.
How often everyone just assumed he wanted the fish ‘n’ chips due to his name, Wikipedia does not reveal.
10. Author and pastor Hartmut Hühnerbein: Hartmut Chicken-Leg
Photos: Tohma/Wikimedia Commons, and DPA.
This Lower Saxon-born religious figure was the former president of Christian nonprofit CJD, which does social work and educational training for young people. Pastor Chicken Leg has also written a number of books, including “Just Believe” and “Window of Hope”.
11. Chemist and mineralogist Karl August Blöde: Karl August Stupid