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The Germans of Romania or Rumäniendeutsche are an ethnic group of Romania. During the interwar period in Romania, the total number of ethnic Germans amounted to as much as 786,000 (according to some sources and estimates dating to 1939), a figure which had subsequently fallen to circa 36,000 as of 2011 in contemporary Romania.
Overview and classification
Topographic map of Romania, highlighting the three most important areas of settlement of the Romanian-German community: Transylvania (German: Siebenbürgen), Banat (German: Banat), and Bukovina (German: Buchenland).
The Germans of Romania are not a single, unitary, homogeneous group, but rather a series of different sub-groups, each with their own culture, traditions, dialect(s), and history. This stems from the fact that various German-speaking populations arrived on the territory of present-day Romania in different waves or stages of settlement, initially as early as the High Middle Ages, firstly to southern and northeastern Transylvania (some of them even crossing the outer Carpathians to neighbouring Moldavia and Wallachia), then subsequently during the Modern Age in other Habsburg-ruled lands (such as Bukovina, at the time part of Cisleithania, or Banat), as well as in other areas of contemporary Romania (such as Dobruja).
Map depicting the traditional settlement areas of the Romanian-Germans in Transylvania and Banat, historical regions situated in central, respectively south-western present-day Romania.
Therefore, given their rather complex geographic background, in order to understand their language, culture, customs, and history, one must regard them as the following independent groups:
Transylvanian Saxons - the largest and oldest German community on the territory of modern-day Romania (often simply equated with all Romanian-Germans);
The Black Church (German: Die Schwarze Kirche, Romanian: Biserica Neagr?) in Kronstadt/Bra?ov, a representative landmark of the German community in Romania.
Throughout the passing of time, the German community in Romania has been actively and consistently contributing to the culture of the country. The most noteworthy examples of such contributions are visible in the following aspects:
Romanian language (where approximately 3% of the words in the Romanian lexis are of German origin, mainly stemming from the influence of the Transylvanian Saxons and, later on, that of Austrians);
Romanian literature (the first letter written in Romanian was addressed to the former early 16th century mayor of Kronstadt, Johannes Benkner, and the first Romanian language book was printed in Hermannstadt).
Royal House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen in Romania
The data displayed in the table below highlights notable settlements (of at least 1%) of the German minority in Romania according to the 2011 Romanian census. Note that some particular figures might be estimative.
Administration, official representation, and politics
The Lutsch house (German: Lutschhaus, Romanian: Casa Lutsch), the seat of the DFDR/FDGR in Sibiu (German: Hermannstadt).
The entire German-speaking community in contemporary Romania is represented at official level by the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (German: Demokratisches Forum der Deutschen in Rumänien). The forum is a political platform that has a centrist ideology aiming to support the minority rights of the Germans from Romania.
In Timi?oara, the Nikolaus Lenau High School was founded during the late 19th century. It was named this way in reference to Nikolaus Lenau, a Banat Swabian Romantic poet. Nowadays, the Nikolaus Lenau High School is considered the most important of its kind from Banat.
In Sibiu, the Samuel von Brukenthal National College is the oldest German-language school from Romania (recorded as early as the 14th century), being also classified as a historical monument. It was subsequently renamed this way in reference to baron Samuel von Brukenthal, a Transylvanian Saxon aristocrat.
Additionally, there are two Goethe Institut cultural associations in Romania: one based in Bucharest and another one in Ia?i.
Although the German minority in Romania has dwindled in numbers to a considerable extent since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the few but well organised Romanian-Germans who decided to remain in the country after the 1989 revolution are respected and regarded by many of their fellow ethnic Romanian countrymen as a hard-working, thorough, and practical community who has contributed tremendously to the local culture and history of, most notably, Transylvania, Banat, and Bukovina, where the largest German-speaking groups once lived alongside the Romanian ethnic majority.
Furthermore, the bilateral political and cultural relationships between post-1989 Romania and the unified Federal Republic of Germany have seen a continuous positive evolution since the signing of a friendship treaty between the two countries in 1992.
Additionally, on the occasion of the election of Frank Walter Steinmeier as President of Germany in 2017, current Romanian president Klaus Johannis stated, among others, that: "[...] Last but not least, there is a profound friendship bounding the Romanians and the Germans, thanks mainly to the centuries-long cohabitation between the Romanians, Saxons, and Swabians in Transylvania, Banat, and Bukovina."
Below are represented several lists comprising selected notable German-Romanians by historical region.
^Dr. Gerhard Reichning, Die deutschen Vertriebenen in Zahlen, Teil 1, Bonn 1995, Page 17
^Die deutschen Vertreibungsverluste. Bevölkerungsbilanzen für die deutschen Vertreibungsgebiete 1939/50. Herausgeber: Statistisches Bundesamt - Wiesbaden. - Stuttgart: Verlag W. Kohlhammer, 1958 Page 46
^Monica Barcan, Adalbert Millitz, The German Nationality in Romania (1978), page 42: "The Satu Mare Swabians are true Swabians, their place of origin being Wurttemberg. They were colonized between 1712 and 1815. Their most important settlements are Satu Mare/Sathmar and Petresti/Petrifeld in North- West Romania."
^Oskar Hadbawnik, Die Zipser in der Bukowina (1968) discusses the Zipserfest held in Jakobeny in 1936 to commemorate 150 years since the Zipsers migrated to Jakobeny in 1786.
^?. ?. ?, . ? ?, ? ?. "", 81'282.4:811.112.2(477): Lexikalische Besonderheiten Deutscher Dialekte in Galizien- und der Bukowina: "Die Siedler in den ursprünglichen Bergwerksgemeinden im Südwesten der Bukowina sprachen Zipserisch und zwar Gründlerisch, wie es in der Unterzips gesprochen wurde. Dabei wurde [v] im Anlaut wie [b] ausgesprochen: Werke - berka, weh - be, Schwester - schbesta. Anlautendes [b] wurde zu [p]: Brot - prot, Brücke - prik."