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Sigyn
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 09:04 AM
I just found this interesting article about the Transylvania Saxons and their villages in modern-day Romania, I thought I'd share it with you all:


Between the collapse of the Ceausescu regime in December 1989 and 1990, half a million indigenous "Saxons" escaped Romania for West Germany. It was the most astonishing, and little-reported, ethnic migration in modern Europe. In the seven large towns and 250 villages of the Saxon areas in southern Transylvania, no less than 90% of the local German-speaking population packed its bags and put eight centuries of history behind them. They all drove west to a new country few of them knew, enticed by the notorious "return to the fatherland" speech of the German politician Hans-Dietrich Genscher.

The exodus left behind an empty landscape the size of Wales, hundreds of square miles of dark green hills and rolling beech woods, lush pastures and wild flowers, once home to the Dracula legend. Across the land are dotted medieval villages, with fortified Lutheran churches, schools, dignified houses, granaries, barns and small holdings, their customs and appearance reminiscent of the Pennsylvania Dutch. For 800 years since being invited by the Magyar kings to form a guarded area against the infidel Turks, the Transylvania Saxons retained their old German tradition. These settlers spoke a High German said to be similar to ancient Germanic tongues. They embraced the Protestant reformation and resisted Ceausescu's brutal communism. All this ended abruptly in 1990.

While the people have all gone, their old villages remain, colonized mostly by Romania's massive population of Roma gypsies. It is estimated that as many as a million gypsies may now occupy this part of Transylvania, possibly rendering it the only majority-gypsy province. The result is the most daunting cultural challenge in Europe.

The village of Archita is lost in a deep Carpathian valley near the ancient town of Sighisoara, whose medieval stone walls and nine towers lie at the heart of Dracula country. The village's fortified church stands like a castle in its midst, encircled by not one but two high walls, with cannon holes and archer's galleries intact. It was built to protect the citizens against raiding Tartars, and still has its ham loft with hooks numbered for each house, an insurance against sudden sieges. The interior displays its wooden galleries, Protestant pulpit and baroque canopy. The old churchyard is overgrown with plum and apple trees. From the rickety church tower, the geometrical village plan reaches out into the surrounding dark woods. Wide streets and two-storeyed houses reflect the equal land plots allotted to each Saxon family in the Middle Ages. Old church records show continuous family tenure from the 13th century to 1990. Now, only three Saxons remain.

The 18th-century town hall and school of Archita have fallen into dereliction. Since the self-supporting Saxon families employed few servants, there are no poor houses or suburbs left behind. There is no running water or sewerage and no tarmac roads. The village well and a few desultory horses and carts are attended by scruffy Roma gypsy youths.

To the new inhabitants of these old villages, the vanished Saxons represent an alien culture. But their ghosts move around buildings that in most cases are unaltered since being converted from wood to stone in the Middle Ages. They are like the hill-station forts of British India, holding its genius loci alive in absentia. Ghosts linger too in the countryside about, preserved by Ceausescu’s order forbidding development beyond the confines of existing cities. This yielded one of the most effective green policies in Europe, protecting miles of meadow and forest, now vulnerable to exploitation. The roads are already littered with loggers carting away loads of walnut, beech and oak trees.

The UN has designated some of the Saxon churches as world heritage sites, as has the Romanian government, but not the villages. With no money for repairs and no enforcement, such designation carries little weight.

The Transylvanian Saxons ranked with the Mennonites, the Amish, and the Volga Germans among the "dislocated tribes of Europe". They lasted a phenomenal eight centuries, leaving intact monuments of a culture distinct and yet integral to European history. If modern Europe cannot guard such relics of its history, it is not worth the name.

ekorn
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 09:57 AM
I've been travelling around there and there are still few german villages. Its true that there are also many gypsies but still, there are also a good amount of those old saxons. Talked to few myself. :)

Quite interesting place, to be honest. The architecture and traditions...


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Sigyn
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 10:24 AM
[I]I've been travelling around there and there are still few german villages. Its true that there are also many gypsies but still, there are also a good amount of those old saxons. Talked to few myself. :)
Sounds really interesting. I want to go there sometimes too, just to look at Vlad Tepes' old castles and meet those old Saxon people. Those old German villages sound absolutely fascinating.

Shame that the Gypsies have moved in. Those people are truly vile.

ekorn
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 10:30 AM
Sounds really interesting. I want to go there sometimes too, just to look at Vlad Tepes' old castles and meet those old Saxon people. Those old German villages sound absolutely fascinating.

Shame that the Gypsies have moved in. Those people are truly vile.

Well, there are few ruins aswell haha, I've heard that the ''real'' castle of the prince Vlad is a total ruin in some other place than the actual claimed. Anyway, not sure about the thing. But this place was nice: Eisenmarkt, in Transylvania. :) Anyway, I liked architecture there,...

The Horned God
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 10:34 AM
...but still, there are also a good amount of those old saxons. Talked to few myself. :)


It's facinating that they still exist in any form after 800 years, but Would you say they looked more German or Romanian in general? It is a rare immigrant group that doesn't mix with the locals eventually.




that the ''real'' castle of the prince Vlad is a total ruin in some other place than the actual claimed.

I believe Vlad only ever stayed one or two nights in the castle billed to tourists as "Dracula's Castle".

ekorn
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 10:39 AM
The only thing I know for sure is that he has been born in Schäßburg, a transylvanian village I've visited aswell. But would be nice to get to know where the damn did this man lived haha, so dizzy.


It's facinating that they still exist in any form after 800 years, but Would you say they looked more German or Romanian in general? It is a rare immigrant group that doesn't mix with the locals eventually.

To be honest, they did had a german look, at least some of them could be easily spotted between romanians. The guy from the video is an example of an average looking for these saxons..

Wulfram
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 11:07 AM
I believe Vlad only ever stayed one or two nights in the castle billed to tourists as "Dracula's Castle".

That place attracts a lot of ghouls who are fascinated with his famed, often exaggerated cruelty.
I read a story of one visitor that wanted to know the exact location on the castle grounds where he impaled people. :blueroll:

The Horned God
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 11:57 AM
That place attracts a lot of ghouls who are fascinated with his famed, often exaggerated cruelty.
I read a story of one visitor that wanted to know the exact location on the castle grounds where he impaled people. :blueroll:

He did impale people though, did he not? I mean just about every source I've ever read on him repeats that he impaled several thousand captured enemy soldiers on stakes.This was done we are repeatedly told as a terror tactic aimed at discouraging invasion by the Ottoman empire with whom he was at war.

Are we misinformed?

ekorn
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 12:04 PM
I heard he impaled thiefs, liars and enemies, haters and foreigns (not sure what this means). At least this was the 'true story' the guide told us. There's a story which says that maybe one of his servants or maidens, or...a villager saw him dipping bread in the blood of an impaled person in his garden. That's why the Dracula-bloody story. :)

Wulfram
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 12:12 PM
He did impale people though, did he not? I mean just about every source I've ever read on him repeats that he impaled several thousand captured enemy soldiers on stakes.This was done we are repeatedly told as a terror tactic aimed at discouraging invasion by the Ottoman empire with whom he was at war.

Are we misinformed?

There are historians, as well as "historians", that claim that he would even impale entire cities that rebelled against his rule. But so far very little evidence in the way of forensics has emerged to confirm these possibly exaggerated stories. I have yet to come across stories where mass graves of skeletons were found showing signs of having been staked.

His being famous for cruelty does seem to have a basis in fact, just not to the extent that has been claimed.

The Horned God
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011, 12:23 PM
There are historians, as well as "historians", that claim that he would even impale entire cities that rebelled against his rule.

Well, if that was the case I doubt he would be hero worshiped in Romania to the extent he is. Can we agree that the controversy about Vlad centers mostly on the degree to which his tortures were carried out rather than to their nature?