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Wiens Coat of Arms / Wiens Family Crest

This German and Ashkenazic Jewish surname of WIENS was a habitation name from the city of Vienna (German WIEN, Yiddish VIN). The place-name is first recorded in the Latin form VINDOBONA and is of Celtic origin. Before the Holocaust there was a large Jewish population in Vienna; from the 17th century onwards the Leopoldstadt was officially designated as a Jewish quarter, and many families bearing this surname no doubt originated there. The name is also spelt WIENER and WIENE. Between 1880 and 1914, almost three million Jews left Eastern Europe, representing the most extensive migration in Jewish history since the expulsion of Jews from Spain at the end of the 15th century. Most of the emigrants fled from Russia, where pogroms had raged, and where the laws of Czar Alexander III had oppressed Jewish life. Most of the emigrants departed from Hamburg and went to the United States, but some emigrated to Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada and South Africa. While the vast majority of the immigrants to America came through Ellis Island from 1907 to 1914 thousands of East European Jews participated in a little known episode in American Jewish history. They migrated through the port of Galveston, Texas and then were routed to towns throughout the Midwest where lodging and jobs awaited them. Wilhelm Carl Werner Otto Fritz Franz WIEN (1864-1928) was the physicist, born in Gaffken, Germany. He studied at Gottingen and Berlin, worked as assistant to Helmholtz and later was professor at Wurzburg (1900-20), and then at Munich. In the early 1890's he studied thermal radiation and by 1896 had developed WIENS formula. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 1911. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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