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Thread: Notable Transylvanian Saxon Personalities

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    Notable Transylvanian Saxon Personalities

    Here Examples of notable Transylvanian Saxons:

    Iancu Sasul (John the Saxon) or Ioan Vodă V (Voivode John V; d. September 28, 1582 in Lviv) was the bastard son of Petru Rareş from his relationship with the wife of Braşov Transylvanian Saxon Iorg (Jürgen) Weiss, and Prince of Moldavia between November 1579 and September 1582.

    Bid for the throne

    Let in on the secret of his lineage by his mother, Iancu renounced the inheritance of his stepfamily and moved to Istanbul, in order to bid for his father's throne. Marrying into the Palaeologus family of former Byzantine Emperors (to Maria), and taking advantage of the weakened position of Moldavian Prince Petru Şchiopul, he borrowed money from Venetian former Dragoman and high dignitary (sfetnic) of Petru Şchiopul Bartolomeo Brutti, and managed to gain the office. Iancu also benefited from the influence that his stepsister, Doamna Chiajna (the widow of Wallachian Prince Mircea Ciobanul and mother of Petru cel Tânăr), exercised on Ottoman authorities.


    The Prince's reign was marked by excessive and highly inventive taxing, motivated by the increasing debt and his ambition to accumulate a sizable personal fortune on the side. Iancu was to go down in history as the mind behind the much-hated văcărit tax, whereby every tenth head of cattle was confiscated by the state (vacă is Romanian for "cow").

    Brutti became part of the retinue and was placed in charge of finances. His privileged position angered Chiajna, and she took to undermining Iancu's standing, forming an alliance with disgruntled boyars. What added to Iancu's isolation were his privileged contacts with the Holy Roman Empire, presumably entertained in order to offer a safe haven in case of need. When he received news of the Porte's intent to depose him, Iancu fled the country, carrying an immense fortune that was said to fit in 100 carts (of which 40 would have been filled with currency alone). He attempted to take refuge on newly-bought estates in Transylvania, but he was arrested on his passage through Poland and decapitated in Lviv.

    Iancu Sasul fathered a son, Bogdan Sasul (mentioned in 1596), and a daughter, Chrisotina (married to a certain Antonios Katakalos).

    Samuel von Brukenthal (1721, Nocrich-1803, Sibiu) was the Habsburg governor of the Grand Principality of Transylvania between July 6, 1774 and January 9, 1787. He was a baron of the Holy Roman Empire, and personal advisor of Empress Maria Theresia.

    His home, a large palace in Sibiu, is currently home to the Brukenthal National Museum (formed around the collections he gathered, and expanded from a public exhibit first opened in 1817).

    Stephan Ludwig Roth (November 24, 1796, in Mediaş―May 11, 1849 in Cluj) was a Transylvanian Saxon intellectual, pedagogue and Lutheran pastor.

    After studying in Mediaş, Sibiu, and at the University of Tübingen, in 1818 Roth pursued his interest in the science of teaching by travelling to Switzerland, in order to gather experience from Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi's projects in Yverdon-les-Bains. He became a collaborator of Pestalozzi, publishing Der Sprachunterricht (a work on language learning) and finished a doctorate in philosophy at Tübingen (1820).

    Returning to Transylvania, Roth followed in the footsteps of his father as head of the Mediaş Gymnasium (from 1831) and became a pastor in 1837.

    In the debates raised by the Transylvanian Diet in 1841, he argued that Romanian be the official language in the region, pointing out its ascendent over all others in the ethnical composition of the country (an idea made public in his 1842 work, Der Spachkampf Siebenburgen). He stood by this principle during the 1848-1849 Revolution, proposing that official material be published simultaneously in Romanian, Hungarian and German. While he was against cultural assimilation of Romanians, Roth had always argued that the Saxon element in Transylvania could be strengthened by encouraging new German colonists to move in.

    Stephan Ludwig Roth further irritated Hungarian sensibilities by rejecting any form of union between Transylvania and Hungary, trying instead to build a bridge between Saxons and Romanians. Thus, he attended the first ethnic Romanian gathering at Câmpia Libertăţii (near Blaj - see Blaj Assemblies), and wrote about it in the local press - his articles show full support for the movement, and highlight Avram Iancu's contribution to the cause.

    With the outbreak of the violent clashes between Imperial and Hungarian troops in October 1848, Roth became a member of the Sibiu Pacification Committee, and commissioner for Saxon villages in Târnava-Mare (Nagy-Küküllő, Große Kokel) (in November), as well as the administrator de facto of the respective county.

    With the Hungarian victories in January 1849 came the end of local government structures. General Józef Bem offered the administrators amnesty, and Roth retired to Mediaş. Disregarding his immunity, local authorities had him arrested and sent to Cluj, where he was convicted of treason by a military tribunal and swiftly executed.

    Hermann Julius Oberth (June 25, 1894 – December 28, 1989) was an Austro-Hungarian-born, German (Transylvanian Saxon) physicist, and, along with the Russian Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and the American Robert Goddard, one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics. The three were never active collaborators: instead, their parallel achievements occurred independently of one another.

    Early life

    Oberth was born to a Saxon family in the Transylvanian city of Schäßburg (Romanian Sighişoara, Romania). By his own account and that of many others, around the age of 11 Oberth became fascinated with the field in which he was to make his mark through the writings of Jules Verne, especially From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon, re-reading them to the point of memorization. Influenced by Verne's books and ideas, Oberth constructed his first model rocket as a school student of 14. In his youthful experiments, he arrived independently at the concept of the multistage rocket, but lacked, at the time, the resources to pursue his idea on any but a theoretical level.

    In 1912, Oberth undertook the study of medicine in Munich but at the outbreak of World War I he was drafted in an Imperial German infantry battalion and sent to the Eastern Front; in 1915 he was moved to a medical unit in a hospital in Sighişoara. Here he initially conducted a series of experiments concerning weightlessness and later resumed his rocket designs. By 1917, he showed what his studies were about and what would become a shooting missile with liquid propellant to Hermann von Stein, the Prussian Minister of War.

    On July 6, 1918 he married Mathilde Hummel, with whom he had four children, among them a son who died at the front during World War II, and a daughter who also died during the war, when a liquid oxygen plant exploded in a workplace accident in August 1944. In 1919 he moved once again to Germany, this time to study physics, initially in Munich and later in Göttingen.

    In 1922, his doctoral dissertation on rocket science was rejected as "utopian". He had the 92-page work privately published as the controversial Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen ("By Rocket into Planetary Space"); in 1929, Oberth would expand this to a 429-page work entitled Wege zur Raumschiffahrt ("Ways to Spaceflight"). Oberth commented later that he made the deliberate choice not to write another doctoral dissertation: "I refrained from writing another one, thinking to myself: Never mind, I will prove that I am able to become a greater scientist than some of you, even without the title of doctor." He criticized the German system of education, saying "Our educational system is like an automobile which has strong rear lights, brightly illuminating the past. But looking forward things are barely discernible." Hermann Oberth was finally awarded with the title of doctor in physics with the same paper, by professor Augustin Maior, at Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca (Romania), on May 23, 1923.

    He became a member of the Verein für Raumschiffahrt (VfR - "Spaceflight Society"), an amateur rocket group that had taken great inspiration from his book and acted as something of a mentor to the enthusiasts that made it up. For several years before his final departure from Romania in 1938, Oberth taught physics and mathematics at the Stephan Ludwig Roth High School in Mediaş.

    Rocketry and space flight

    In 1928 and 1929 Oberth worked in Berlin as a scientific consultant on the first film ever to have scenes set in space, Frau im Mond ("The Woman in the Moon"), directed at Universum Film AG by Fritz Lang. The film was of enormous value in popularizing the idea of rocket science. Oberth's main task was to build and launch a rocket as a publicity event prior to the film's premiere. On June 5, 1929, Oberth won the first REP-Hirsch Prize of the French Astronomical Society for his Encouragement of Astronautics in his book Wege zur Raumschiffahrt (Ways to Spaceflight) that expanded Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen to a full-length book.

    In autumn 1929, Oberth launched his first liquid fuel rocket, named Kegeldüse. He was helped in this experiment by his students at the Technical University of Berlin, one of whom was Wernher von Braun, who would later head the wartime project to develop the rocket officially called the A4, but far better known today as the V-2 rocket.

    In 1938 the Oberth family left Sibiu for good, to settle first in Nazi Germany. Oberth himself moved on first to the Technische Hochschule in Vienna, then the Technische Hochschule in Dresden. Oberth arrived at Peenemünde in 1941 to work on the V-2 and circa September 1943, was awarded the Kriegsverdienstkreuz I Klasse mit Schwertern (War Merit Cross 1st Class, with Swords) for his "outstanding, courageous behavior … during the attack" of Peenemünde by Operation Hydra. Oberth later worked on solid-propellant anti-aircraft rockets at the WASAG complex near Wittenberg. At the end of the war the Oberth family moved to Feucht, near Nuremberg. Oberth left for Switzerland in 1948, where he worked as an independent consultant and a writer.

    In 1950 he went on to Italy where, he completed the work he had begun at WASAG for the Italian Navy. In 1953 he returned to Feucht to publish his book Menschen im Weltraum (Man in Space), in which he described his ideas for a space-based reflecting telescope, a space station, an electric spaceship, and space suits.

    In the 1950s, Oberth offered his opinions regarding unidentified flying objects; he was a supporter of the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

    Oberth eventually came to work for his ex-student von Braun, developing space rockets in Huntsville, Alabama in the United States (see also List of German rocket scientists in the United States). Among other things, Oberth was involved in writing a study, The Development of Space Technology in the Next Ten Years. In 1958 Hermann was back in Feucht, a where he published his ideas on a lunar exploration vehicle, a "lunar catapult", and on "muffled" helicopters and airplanes. In 1960, in the United States again, he went to work for Convair as a technical consultant on the Atlas rocket.

    Later life

    Hermann Oberth retired in 1962 at the age of 68. From 1965 to 1967 he was a member of the far right National Democratic Party. In July 1969, he returned to the US to witness the launch of the Saturn V rocket that carried the Apollo 11 crew on the first landing mission to the Moon.

    The 1973 energy crisis inspired Oberth to look at alternative energy sources, including a plan for a wind power station that could utilize the jet stream. However, his main interest in retirement was to turn to more abstract philosophical questions. Most notable among his several books from this period is Primer For Those Who Would Govern.

    Oberth died in Nuremberg, on December 28, 1989.


    Oberth is memorialized by the Hermann Oberth Space Travel Museum in Feucht, and by the Hermann Oberth Society, which brings together scientists, researchers and astronauts from East and West in order to carry on his work in rocketry and space exploration.

    Also, a crater on the Moon was named after him (see Oberth (crater)).

    The Oberth effect is named after him.

    Star Trek III: The Search for Spock featured an Oberth-class starship in his honor: this class was subsequently used in various episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

    Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa features Hermann Oberth as the "teacher" of the films protagonist, Edward Elric. Oberth is also mentioned in the last episode of Fullmetal Alchemist. In that episode Edward has heard of a great scientist, named Oberth, with curious theories. The last moments of the series are Edward on a train to meet Oberth; determined to study rocketry with him.

    In Hideo Kojima's space adventure game, Policenauts, there is an extravehicular mobility suit called the Oberth.

    Friedrich Ritter Bömches von Boor (born December 27, 1916) is a German painter, graphic artist and photographer.


    The scion of an old-established Transylvanian Saxon family, Friedrich von Bömches was born in Braşov at a time when Transylvania was still part of Austria-Hungary. In 1938, he was drafted in the Romanian Army, and marched with it up to Stalingrad. Von Bömches was demobbed in 1945, but as a German he was deported to the Soviet Union by occupying forces shortly after, and was forced to work in Ukrainian quarries until 1950.

    In 1974 von Bömches relocated to the Federal Republic of Germany and four years later finally found - with the assistance of a local factory owner - a new home at Wiehl, a small town in North Rhine-Westphalia. Here, the artist lives together with his wife Erna (married since 1945) and still responds to his unbowed creative urge, though evidently limited by a severe heart surgery performed in 2001.


    Friedrich von Bömches has been highly successful in sublimating his bitter experiences with war and captivity. He took up this artistic transformation using the medium of photography: during the Stalingrad campaign von Bömches created a lot of photographs (most of which have additional documentary value).

    Not allowed to engage in this art throughout his captivity, von Bömches compensated by resorting to drawing. To date, von Bömches has produced again and again his famous Sekundenskizzen ("instant sketches") - he admitted to be suffering from a "hysterical pencil addiction". Nonetheless, a large portion of his post-release works deal with the tragedy of human existence, death (including his heralds that age and decay), hunger und persecution - to some extent in biblical or mythological moods. In "trapping" the living through the contemplation of such seeming opposites as Life and Death, he provides equal motifs: masterly portraits thanks to an outstanding power of observation, as well as many "little" pictures, most of them extempore, with animal and other themes.

    The German connoisseur and patron of arts Peter Ludwig (1925-1996) referred to von Bömches as the "probably greatest portraitist of the present".

    Between 1950 and 1974, he created some fifteen thousand works. None of them were taken out of Romania. The number of his creations in Germany probably reaches a similar number, including his portraits of notable persons (more than five hundred in number).

    Klaus Johannis (born June 13, 1959, in Sibiu) is a Romanian teacher and politician of German ethnicity. Since 2000 he has been the mayor of Sibiu (re-elected 2004).

    After graduating in physics, Johannis worked as a high school teacher and then became school superintendent of Sibiu County. In 2000 the ethnic Germans' party of Sibiu (DFDR, Democratic Forum of the Germans in Romania) decided to run him as a candidate for mayor. Despite the fact that Sibiu's German minority had shrunken to a mere 1.6 %, Johannis has won two elections in a row, winning the 2004 election with 88.7% of the vote.

    He is the first ethnic German mayor of a Romanian city since Alfred Dörr (served 1940 to 1945).

    Throughout his tenure as mayor, he has managed to trigger the restoration of the town's infrastructure, restoration of its historic center, and a tightening of its administration. Johannis has worked with a city council majority of Romanian Social Democrats.

    Johannis established important contacts with foreign politicians and investors. Sibiu was declared European Capital of Culture of 2007, together with Luxembourg (the bearer of the distinction in 1995).

    On November 4, 2005, Johannis was nominated "Personality of the Year for a European Romania" (Personalitatea anului pentru o Românie europeană) by the Eurolink – House of Europe organization.

    Christian Wilhelm Berger (born 13 June 1964 in Bucharest) is a Romanian composer, organist, and a professor of music.


    Berger studied piano at George Enescu Music School in Bucharest from 1970-1982. He studied composition at the Music Academy in Bucharest, with Prof. Aurel Stroe and Prof. Tiberiu Olah from 1983-1987, and received his Ph. D. at Gheorghe Dima Music Academy in Cluj-Napoca, with Prof. Cornel Tãranu in 1994. Berger privately studied the pipe organ with Ilse Maria Reich who was an organ player at a Lutheran Church in Bucharest, and with Eckart Schlandt, an organ player at the Black Church in Braşov.

    Currently, Berger studies orchestration at the National Music University in Bucharest.


    Berger is a recipient of an Honor Diploma in 1989 at the Carl Maria von Weber International String Quartet Composition Competition, in Dresden, Germany for his String quartet no. 3, op. 9. In 1994, he took 2nd Prize at the Ernest Bloch International Composition Contest for String Orchestra in Lugano, Switzerland for “Cogito ergo sum…”, and 3rd Prize at the Orgelmusik (organ music) 2000 International Composition Contest for the Organ in 1995 at Ingolstadt, Germany for Evocation for organ. Berger was awarded the George Enescu Prize of the Romanian Academy in 1995 for Inscription in Stone for organ.

    As an organist

    Berger has performed numerous solo recitals in Romania (Bucharest, Braşov, Timişoara, Cluj-Napoca, Târgu-Mureş, etc.) and in Germany (Munchen, Ingolstadt, Weinsberg, Augsburg, etc.) and concerts with orchestras in Romania with the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Broadcast Symphony Orchestra, and Philharmonic Orchestras from Craiova, Ploieşti, Bacău, and Târgu-Mureş.

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    Impressed beyond Words.

    Am totally impressed by your knowledge and dedication. Especially considering your age. Especially! But as Einstein said: "There are only two ways to live your life. One is though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." So here we are having a miracle! Just have to shake my head in disbelieve. Congratulations to you young lady!

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