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Thread: Transylvanian Saxons: the Ethnic Germans of Transylvania

  1. #31
    Senior Member Loddfafner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leof View Post
    The title of this thread makes me think of a really cheesy horror film.
    Considering the rather bizarre and presumably distorted reputation Transylvania has in America, I am glad to encounter here a more realistic account of the place.

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    I imagine you have your own quite distinctive dialect, and I recall you saying it was similar to Franconian. How far removed is it, would you say? Any significant inheritances from Romanian?

    Nice to see some Auslandsdeutsche still aware of their origins.

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  3. #33
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    Yes, Soldier of Wodann. There is a Transylvanian Saxon Dialect which has been studied by Linguists and it's classified as Moselle Franconian:

    Moselle Franconian is a group of High German dialects spoken in parts of the German states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, in the neighbouring département of Moselle in France, as well as in Romania, because of the emigration of numerous German families between 1100 and 1300, primarily from areas in which the Moselle Franconian dialect was spoken at that time. As a result this medieval Moselle Franconian language forms (and other old German dialects such as Suebian from southwest Germany) still exist up today in Romania.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moselle_Franconian

    Here a Fragment also from Gündisch:

    Research of the specific dialect spoken by the Transylvanian Saxons could not establish any correlation with an emigration from Saxony. Similarities with the "Letzelburger Platt", a Mosel-Franconian dialect encouraged researchers to identify this as the place of origin. However, Bavarian, North and Middle German influences have also been proven. Additional confusion arises with a thesis of a parallel but independent development of two isolated languages in the west and southwest of Europe, one in Luxembourg, the other in Transylvania.
    There is Information on the German Wikipedia too:

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siebenb...achsen#Sprache

    Yes, there are some Similarities with some Romanian Words, but with Grman Spelling. And these kind of Words have passed into our standard German too. For Example, we say "Kratzewetz" instead of "Gurke" (Cucumber). In Romanian, it is called "Castravete". Or, we say "Kukuruz" instead of Mais (Corn). In Romanian, it is called "Cucuruz". But I am not sure if these Words were inherited in German from Romanian, or vice versa, in Romanian, from German. Romanian is very rich in Influences and borrowed Words from other Languages it has Contact with. However, this Dialect is in Danger of Extinction, just like the Transylvanian Saxon Ethnicity.

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    Senior Member Aragorn's Avatar
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    How much different is Transsylvanian-Saxon with Lower-Saxon dialects spoken in germany and Netherlands? I can understand without much difficulty various Dutch and German Saxon dialects, while I have problem understand Dutch Franconian dialects more.

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    Apart from references to vampires (come about, apparently, due to Vlad the Impaler's more bloodthirsty regime), I confess to being ignorant of such matters about Transylvania, although the mountainous region has always held some sort of romantic appeal to me.

    This is a fascinating thread indeed, your lot are the lucky few who have been able to hold onto your culture. :thumb001:
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    The Transylvanian Saxons Under Ceauşescu/Communist Rule

    This Thread is started at someone's Request. A few People asked me about the Situation of Transylvanian Saxons in Communist Romania. This Situation isn't so clear cut. For Example, Wikipedia Articles state some vague Information:

    When Romania signed a peace treaty with the Soviets in 1944, the German military began withdrawing the Saxons from Transylvania; this operation was most thorough with the Saxons of the Nösnerland. Around 100,000 Germans fled before the Soviet Red Army, but Romania did not conduct the expulsion of Germans as in neighboring countries at war's end. However, more than 80,000 Saxons were arrested by the Soviet Army and sent to labour camps in Siberia for alleged cooperation with Germany. The remaining Saxons were persecuted by the Communist Romanian government and lost many political rights.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transyl...and_afterwards

    However, for more Details, there is Dr. Konrad Gündisch's excellent Source for Transylvanian Saxon History.

    THE HISTORY OF TRANSYLVANIA AND THE TRANSYLVANIAN SAXONS

    7. Under Communist Rule

    Transfer of power to the communists in Romania occurred gradually with pressure by the soviet troops. A communist government took over in March of 1945. King Michael of Hohenzollern had to leave the country in December 1947. Red terror covered the lands. Public politicians and intellectuals were interned, political parties prohibited. The economy was placed under state control. Private and religious schools were dissolved. First steps were taken to socialize agriculture.

    All citizens of Germanic descent were apprehended as a group, although they could hardly be made responsible for the events of the war. In January of 1945, the first deportation of men and women to rebuild the Soviet Union took place. Among them were approximately 30,000 Transylvanian Saxons. Hunger, cold and diseases decimated their numbers. Approximately one third perished dreadfully. Many of the survivors slaved until 1952 in the coal mines of Russia. A good number were not returned to their home land but to the Soviet occupied Germany and were separated from their families for years and decades.

    In Transylvania the Saxons remained for years without political rights and as "Hitlerists" were subjected to the free will of bureaucrats. Approximately 60,000 Saxon farmers were disowned during the agricultural reform. They had to leave their farms and received them back totally dilapidated as late as 1956. In cities, not only industries and banks were placed under state control but also the tradesmen and merchants were disowned. Their homes changed ownership. They were specifically excluded from the promised rights for minorities in 1945 and were not allowed to vote. Of all atrocities, the Transylvanian Saxons were only spared the acts of banishment and revenge which occurred in other east European countries at the hands of the people of the country where they had peacefully coexisted with other groups for centuries.

    The Lutheran church was allowed to persevere. Under communist dictatorship, during the years of hardship, it remained the sole, and just barely, intact institution of the Transylvanian Saxons, their last refuge. After 1949 the measures aimed against the Germans were slowly softened. Government schools with German curriculum, a German newspaper and a theater were permitted. The status of minorities was granted in 1956. Farmhouses and the original living quarters were returned to them.

    Regardless, a radical change occurred in the socio-economical demographics. Up to 1945, 85% of the Romanian-Germans were independent, of which 70% were farmers. After less than a decade, the first demographic assessment of the communist Romania showed only 22% of the Germans were employed in farming, working in the new uneconomic collective farms (LPG’s). Many Germans became workers in the industries. Their number among college and university graduates is disproportionately high. Many parents, now without personal belongings, made great sacrifices to enable their children to study. Although this was the only patrimony they could provide, it would turn against them since the communist regime targeted especially intellectuals for prosecution. The trials of writers and playwrights or the indictment of German students in the mid fifties are evidence of this.

    Disowning and industrialization have undermined the ties to the native soil and fundamentally upset the relationship with the Romanian state, not, however, with the Romanian people who mostly remained tolerant and compassionate throughout the years. Attempts by the communist state to reestablish confidence proved fruitless. Nicolae Ceausescu admitted openly errors of the past during his "reform phase" in the sixties and had a Council of Workers of German Nationality established, who were to represent the minority. The mistrust in these attempts was justified based on the dictator’s later policies for minorities. He soon spoke openly of creating a uniform Romanian socialist nation. German names of cities were prohibited and the historic accomplishments not mentioned. A law for the protection of the national culture proclaimed the overlying state ownership of all possessions including private books and furniture. The dictatorship became less and less bearable with its beadle and informer apparatus and raised the yearning for freedom. The aspiration for economic realization was legitimate.

    All these factors explain the desire of most Transylvanian Saxons to leave their homeland. Initially the concern was to unite families torn apart during the war and the post war era. Soldiers not able to return after the war, deportees in the Soviet Union, who were released in Frankfurt an der Oder searched for their relatives. Not considering the unique and exemplary action of the Red Cross in 1951 through which approximately 1000 Romanian-Germans were able to reach Germany, it was not until 1958 that the communist regime allowed emigration of a substantial number of Transylvanian Saxons and Banat Swabians. They in turn enabled relatives to follow. When Romania and West Germany established formal diplomatic relations, visits to relatives were possible. This literally created a trail for others to follow.

    A controlled procedure developed for uniting relatives, in which materialistic interest of the Romanian state cannot be dismissed. Emigration accelerated after the agreement regarding expanded family unification of 1978 between the German Chancellor and the Dictator was signed and approximately 11,000 persons were allowed to leave. This agreement notwithstanding, emigrants were subjected to a variety of chicanery. Continuously more applications were issued, regardless of the degrading fee collected by the Romanian state to compensate for education cost. Some called the procedure "head-money" and "slave trade".

    Prior to the December 1989 revolution in Romania a total of 242,326 Germans came from Romania to Germany, of which approximately half are Transylvanian Saxons. The ones left behind are in solitude. Relatives, friends, neighbors are gone. Kindergartens and schools had to be closed for lack of pupils. Only 96,000 Transylvanian Saxons lived in Romania when the Dictator was deposed. After the borders opened there was no holding back. Within a short period only 25,000 Saxons remained in the homeland. They are spread over 266 towns and cities. Among them are 67 with 20 to 50, and 64 with less than 20 members in the Lutheran congregation. The Church and the 1989 founded Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania provides affinity. The Forum is represented in the new Romanian parliament and supported by the German government. It had introduced economic and cultural measures especially in schools to stabilize the German population. However, the majority of the youth has left the country. Cultural activities are among the 55 to 70 year olds in Transylvania.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    Here is more Information from another Source:

    Socialists against the past. (elimination of architectural heritage in Romania)

    [...] the nationalistic, socialistic regime of Ceausescu relentlessly seeks to deprive minority groups of their leadership, their traditions, their languages, with its principal victims being the Hungarians. The situation is particularly bad in Transylvania, which was once the vital center of Hungarian patriotism and culture. This had been an area of lively religious diversity, including ethnically German Lutherans (the Transylvanian Saxons), Hungarian Roman Catholics, and Rumanian Eastern Rite Catholics. Under Communism, however, all have been forced into the Orthodox Church, which in Rumania, as in the USSR, has become little more than an arm of the government. And the regime's strategy has succeeded: by and large, Transylvanians have been intimidated into submission, losing much of their cultural identity.

    NICOLAE CEAUSESCU wants to destroy the past-his own people's and, even more so, that of others. His building program, following the national and international socialist pattern, aims at the elimination of an architectural heritage, and its replacement by drab mass dwellings and colossal monuments to political power.

  7. #37
    Senior Member Carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siebenbürgerin View Post
    Yes, the Lawspeaker. We are recognized as a National Minority. There are some German Schools. German is recognized as Official Language in Villages and Cities where there are many Germans. We have a Political Party representing the Germans of Romania, the Demokratische Forum der Deutschen in Rumänien (DFDR). At the 2004 legislative Elections, the Party was granted a Seat in the Chamber of Deputies. Our Mayor, the DFDR Mayor of Hermannstadt, Klaus Johannis is German. But many Transylvanian Saxons have been emigrating to Germany because Germany's Government considers them Auslandsdeutsche so they have the Right to German Citizenship.
    I was wondering about all this - since you are here as something of an expert in situ.. The Romanian Germans are I assume Romanian citizens - carrying that passport. It is now within the EU. What attitude do the Germans as a group have towards the EU - are they not fairly positive about the way things are going there ...or not?

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    I had always thought that the Saxonians had been deported from Romania after the 2nd world war. It is interesting to learn that descendants of the mediaeval German colonists yet persist in Romania.

    These questions are for all the Transylvanian Saxons here on the forum:

    Do you still speak the local German dialect, or strictly Romanian?

    How are Saxons treated in Romania?

    Do you think there are many German children in those ghastly Romanian orphanages?

    Scear

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scear View Post
    These questions are for all the Transylvanian Saxons here on the forum:

    Do you still speak the local German dialect, or strictly Romanian?
    I am bilingual and speak German (local dialect and standard) and Romanian as my mother languages. The German here has some small differences from the German from the "Reich" I exemplified in another post already. I paste here:

    Some Things differ in Gender. We say "der Zwiebel" instead of "die Zwiebel" (the Onion). In our Language, Onions are of masculine Gender, not Feminine. Or we have different Spelling. "Jaurt" instead of "Joghurt" (Yoghurt).

    And we also have dialect variations,
    "Kratzewetz" instead of "Gurke" (Cucumber). "Kukuruz" instead of Mais (Corn). Etc.

    How are Saxons treated in Romania?
    Unfortunately, not the best way. We are very few, and in Hermannstadt we are lucky to be ruled by our party, the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania and our mayor, Klaus Johannis, is German. However, in other cities and villages, there need to be a high number of German minorities for pro-German laws to be in place.

    Do you think there are many German children in those ghastly Romanian orphanages?

    Scear
    I don't know how to answer this as I don't know much about orphanages.

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    The dialects of the Reich are just as variable. In standard German or Schriftdeutsch, the word for squirrel is Eichhörnchen, but my Swabian Grandparents would say Eichhörnli. The Alemanisch high German dialects are in fact quite undecipherable to speakers of low German Plattdeutsch and vice versa. So your Transylvania dialectal differences are not at all odd or unexpected.

    I recall amusing arguments between my grandparents over whether one prounounced krug as krook or Krookh. My Grandmother it seems was from further North than my Grandfather...lol

    From wiki: Under the term "Romanian Germans" (Rumäniendeutschen) are included a wide variety of different regional German-speaking groups, including: Transylvanian Saxons, Banat Swabians, Sathmar Swabians, Bukovina Germans, Transylvanian Landler, Zipser Germans, and Regat Germans (the term Regat refers to what was Romanian territory until the First World War).
    The Saxonian Germans of the Transylvania region are quite famous, but these other groups are somewhat obscure. I imagine they are quite few in number.


    It seems your dialect is influenced by slavonian or perhaps Vlakh which is itself influenced by neighbouring slavic tongues. I recognise Kukuruz as being similar to the Russian Kukurusa (phonetic spelling); their word for maize.

    And the fact that you have your own political enclave is absolutely wonderful. I am tempted to visit Hermannstadt and revel in my Germanness!


    Regards,

    .Scear

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