My own surname is of German background. My ethnic heritage is not solely German but there is also Polish and Old Prussian in the mix. Both sides of my family, paternal and maternal, come from what was eastern Germany before 1945. My father was born in 1913 in a village east of the city of Allenstein, now Olsztyn in northeastern Poland. I have worked on my family tree and history for some years. A line on my paternal grandmother's side was traced back to the 1620s, which is remarkable given the number of wars that have occurred around Europe in the intervening years. My surname actually originates from the Salzburg region of Austria. An ancestor left Austria in the late 18th century and settled in a place northwest of Koenigsberg, now Kaliningrad in the Russian Oblast of Kaliningrad. The family spread southward from there. The aftermath of WWII sent most of my family westward and spread them across western Germany, those that survived the war. Its a long, sad story and war is never pleasant for any one regardless of which side is involved.
At one time when people didn't move around as much, certain surname where common in certain regions of Germany, so that one could tell whether the origin was the Rhineland, Bavaria or the Prussian lands (East and West Prussia) as an example. It was also possible to tell the type of work that ancestor did for a living, or the height, and so on.
I'll have more on family history and research in general at a later date. Brad might want to hear more, so who knows what more you might learn about the Acadians and the French in general. Keep coming back for more on this! Its off to bed now. Morning is coming soon enough! - V