There is no real H sound in Russian, and possibly in Byelorussian, as we know it in English/German. What comes close is the sound Kh in Russian (pronounced like the German ch) and represented by the Cyrillic letter X but it is usually not used to represent the English H. Instead the Cyrillic Г – hard G – is used. Thus Herman becomes German (hard G), Harry becomes Gari and Hertz would become Gertz etc.
Interestingly, other Slavonic languages, e.g. Czech, have many words beginning with H where one would find a G sound in Russian. Thus the recent threads on JewishGen re Horodok/Gorodok. In some regions of Russia, i.e. in the south, the local dialect replaces the hard initial Russian G with an H sound. Pop group (groopa) becomes hroopa. G, Kh and H phonetically are produced close by in the mouth. G is a voiced velar plosive. Kh sound is a voiceless velar fricative. H is a voiceless glottal fricative.
Carole Shaw, London UK
WOLFSBERGEN, BOSMAN: Holland
ZANDGRUNDT (plus variations), SANDGROUND: Warsaw, London and beyond
JACOBOVITCH/JACKSON: Staszow, Poland & London
KOSKOVITCH/KENTON: Staszow, Poland & London