Strauss, Strauß or Straus is a common Germanic surname. Outside Germany and Austria Strauß is always spelled Strauss (the letter "ß" is not used in the German-speaking part of Switzerland).

The families using the Strauss name represent a genetically varied group of people of both Jewish and Germanic origin.

The name has been used by families in the Germanic area for at least a thousand years. The overlord of Gröna for example, went by the name of Struz and used the image of an ostrich as his symbol. Examples of it could still be seen on the thousand-year-old church bell of that town. "Struz" or "Strutz" is the North-German form of the word "Strauss", which is the modern German word for an "Ostrich".

Some of the earliest Jewish bearers of the name hailed from the Judengasse in medieval Frankfurt, where families have been known by the name of the houses they inhabited. All the houses had names and these included Haus Strauss, complete with an image of an ostrich on the façade.

When, for tax purposes, Napoleon made surnames obligatory in 1808, some more Jewish families decided to adopt the Straus(s) name.

By Dean Hanley

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