This surname of WERTHER is a west Ashkenazic habitation name from a place on the Main, so called from the Old German word WERID (island). It was also a topographic name for someone who lived on an island in a river, or on a riverbank. Other spellings of the name include WERTHE, WERTHER, WERTHAIMER and WERTHAMMER. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times, has served to name many families. Max WERTHEIMER (1880-1943) was a psychologist and philosopher, born in Prague. He studied law in Prague, then psychology at Berlin and Wurtzburg universities. In 1912 he conducted experiments which led to the founding of the Gestalt school of psychology. He was professor at Berlin and Frankfurt, but left Germany for the USA in 1933 at the Nazi assumption of power, and taught at the New School for Social Research in New York City (1939-43). Many Germans have re-spelt their names in America. A great number of immigrants from Germany settled in Pennsylvania. After the start of the first World War, Germans in great numbers Anglicized their names in an effort to remove all doubt as to their patriotism. Afterwards some changed back, and then during World War II the problem became acute once more, and the changing started all over again, although not with as much intensity. German or Teutonic heraldry extended its sphere of influence over central Europe and spread into Scandinavia. It is most notable for its design and treatment of crests, most of which reflect the arms in the charge or tinctures (colours) or both, which is unknown in British heraldry. Teutonic Europe assembled many arms on a single shield, each bearing its corresponding crest on a helmet.
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