Apold August 1999

As I looked out the train window travelling around Transylvania, I saw many old medieval towns overgrowing with ivy grass and weeds. While backpacking around Transylvania I heard the stories about these abandoned towns.

About 800 years ago, a German Prince was given the rule of a large piece of Transylvania. He brought many "loyal" subjects with him from Germany. These people all kept marrying other German descendents keeping their pure German blood lines in tact. Eight hundred years later, they were all entitled to reclaim German citizenship when they migrated to Germany.

After the fall of the Ceaucescu regime, the people from these towns moved to Germany. Back in Germany, your family could have moved to Germany 800 years ago but you cannot get German citizenship unless you have German blood. Something wrong here?

During my stay in the citadel city of Sighisoara, I learned of the mass migration. They said that three hundred thousand people moved to Germany leaving hundreds of empty towns and villages. The historical account linked at the end of this account indicates that the mass migration  took place over a much longer period of time.  I wanted to see this for myself so I went to Apold, a small village 15km from Sighisoara.

As I walked into the town a few gypsy squatters were in the street. One boy said, "Church?" He wanted to know if I wanted to see the church. I nodded. He'd gone to find the keeper of the key. The priest moved to Germany with the townsfolk some time ago. The key was kept by one of the squatters.

During the church tour, two sisters began talking to me. My grasp of Romanian was not good so communication was kept very simple. They took me back to their house to see how they lived. The house was rudimentary. It consisted of a number of rooms that were not connected by internal doors. You passed from room to room by walking outside. It occurred to me that this was not very useful during the bitterly cold winter in Romania. Six women, all related to each other in some way, shared the house. They didn't all have shoes and had to share shoes in winter taking turns to go outside.

This account is my impression of the migration gleaned from a very brief visit. 

A comprehensive and academically rigorous historical account of the Romanian Saxon's 800 year history and ultimate collapse of the population can be found here :