Germans of Romania

The Germans of Romania (German: Rumäniendeutsche; Romanian: Germanii din România) represent one of the most significant ethnic minorities of Romania. During the interwar period, the total number of ethnic Germans in this country amounted to as much as c. 800,000 (according to some sources and estimates dating to 1939, just on the verge of World War II),[2][3][4] a figure which has subsequently fallen to c. 36,000 (according to the 2011 census).

Germans in Romania
Germanii din Romania (2002).png
Map depicting the distribution of ethnic Germans in Romania (according to the 2002 census)
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Mainly Transylvania, Banat, and Bukovina
Mainly German (Hochdeutsch)
Majority: Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
Mainly Germans

Overview and classification of Romanian-GermansEdit

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 or Bukowina).

The Germans of Romania (or Romanian-Germans) are not a single, unitary, homogeneous group, but rather a series of various regional sub-groups, each with their afferent culture, traditions, dialects, and history.[5]

This claim stems from the fact that various German-speaking populations had previously arrived in the territory of present-day Romania in different waves or stages of settlement, initially starting with the High Middle Ages, firstly to southern and northeastern Transylvania, Kingdom of Hungary (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 the Banat).[6] Subsequently, the Romanian Old Kingdom was also colonized by Germans, firstly in Dobruja and then gradually in Moldavia and Wallachia.

Detailed map depicting the traditional settlement areas of the Romanian-Germans in Transylvania and Banat, two historical regions situated in central, respectively southwestern present-day Romania.

Therefore, given their rather complex geographic background, besides major border changes took place in the region throughout history (after World War I, Romania expanded its territory from the pre-war 137,000 km2 (53,000 sq mi) to 295,049 km2 (113,919 sq mi). In order to understand their language, culture, customs, and history, the Germans of Romania must be regarded as the following independent sub-groups:

Contributions to Romanian cultureEdit

The Black Church (German: Die Schwarze Kirche, Romanian: Biserica Neagră) in Brașov (German: Kronstadt), a representative landmark of the German community in Romania.

The German community in Romania has been actively and consistently contributing to the culture of the country. Notable examples include:

Royal House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen in RomaniaEdit

In the time of Romania's transition from a middle-sized principality to a larger kingdom, members of the German House of Hohenzollern (hailing from the Swabian Principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, part contemporary Baden-Württemberg) reigned initially over the Danubian United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia and then, eventually, also over the unified Kingdom of Romania both during the 19th and 20th centuries. Consequently, the ruling Romanian monarchs who were part of this dynastic branch were the following ones:

  Denotes Regent
King Reign Claim
Portrait Name
Reign start Reign end Duration
1   Carol I
15 March 1881 10 October 1914 33 years, 209 days Ruled beforehand as Domnitor (i.e. 'Prince') (1866–1881)
2   Ferdinand I
10 October 1914 20 July 1927 12 years, 283 days Nephew of Carol I
3   Michael I
20 July 1927 8 June 1930
2 years, 323 days Grandson of Ferdinand I
  Prince Nicholas
20 July 1927 8 June 1930
2 years, 323 days Son of Ferdinand I
4   Carol II
8 June 1930 6 September 1940
10 years, 90 days Son of Ferdinand I
(3)   Michael I
6 September 1940 30 December 1947
7 years, 115 days Son of Carol II

Pretenders to the throne of Romania (after 1947, when King Michael I was forced to abdicate):

Portrait Pretender Pretending from Pretending until
1   Michael I 30 December 1947 1 March 2016
2   Margareta 1 March 2016 2018[citation needed]
3   Elena 2018[citation needed] present-day[citation needed]

Recent history (20th century onwards)Edit

The Small Square (German: Der kleine Ring, Romanian: Piața Mică) in Sibiu (German: Hermannstadt)

Between the two World Wars, namely in 1925, c. 20,000 Swabians from Timiș County were relocated to neighbouring Arad County in order to create an ethnic balance in the latter administrative unit.[26] Subsequently, huge numbers of both Transylvanian Saxons and Banat Swabians (ranging between c. 67,000 to 89,000 in total) were deported to the Soviet Union for forced labour after World War II, as a war compensation to the Soviets, despite the diplomatic efforts of Transylvanian Saxon politician Hans Otto Roth.[27] Later during the 1950s, the Bărăgan deportations forcibly relocated many from near the Yugoslav border to the Bărăgan Plain. Survivors of both groups generally returned, but had often lost their properties in the process.[28][29]

The Administrative Palace (German: Verwaltungspalast) in Suceava built during the Austrian-ruled period in Bukovina, a historical landmark which is also part of the Bukovina German legacy of the entire region.

In addition, the once influential Bukovina German community also drastically dwindled in numbers, primarily as of the cause of the Heim ins Reich population transfer, leaving only several thousands of ethnic Germans in southern Bukovina (or Suceava County) after the end of World War II. As Communism paved its way in Romania, most of the remaining Bukovina Germans decided to gradually leave the country for West Germany up until 1989 (and even beyond).

Furthermore, during the 1970s and 1980s, tens of thousands of other Romanian-Germans were 'bought back' by the West German government under a program to reunite families - and following the collapse of Nicolae Ceaușescu's regime in December 1989, around 200,000 Germans left their homes in Romania.[30] During Communist times, there have been several German-speaking opposition groups to the Romanian Communist state, among which most notably there was Aktionsgruppe Banat, a literary society constituted in Banat by intellectual representatives of the local Swabian community (including writer Richard Wagner).

Recent developments (21st century onwards)Edit

Eventually, 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 which 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.[31]

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.[32] 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."[33]


Historical population
1887 50,000—    
1930 745,421+1390.8%
1939 786,000+5.4%
1948 343,913−56.2%
1956 384,708+11.9%
1966 382,595−0.5%
1977 359,109−6.1%
1992 119,462−66.7%
2002 59,764−50.0%
2011 36,042−39.7%
2022 TBD—    
Starting with the 1930 figures, the reference is to all German-speaking groups in Romania.

Current population by settlementEdit

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 represent a rough estimate.

Brebu Nou (German: Weidenthal), Banat
Cârlibaba (German: Mariensee or Ludwigsdorf), Bukovina
Biertan (German: Birthälm), Transylvania
Hărman (German: Honigberg), Transylvania
Cisnădie (German: Heltau), Transylvania
Mediaș (German: Mediasch), Transylvania
Sighișoara (German: Schässburg), Transylvania
Agnita (German: Agnetheln), Transylvania
German minory population by settlement (Source: 2011 Romanian census)
Romanian name German name Percent[34] County
Brebu Nou Weidenthal 30.2 Caraș-Severin
Petrești Petrifeld 27.8 Satu Mare
Urziceni Schinal 23.9 Satu Mare
Cămin Kalmandi 22.5 Satu Mare
Beltiug Bildegg 11.4 Satu Mare
Tiream Terem 10.9 Satu Mare
Laslea Grosslasseln 7.5 Sibiu
Anina Steierdorf 5.6 Caraș-Severin
Ațel Hatzeldorf 5.3 Sibiu
Cârlibaba Mariensee/Ludwigsdorf 5.1 Suceava
Saschiz Keisd 5.0 Mureș
Biertan Birthälm 4.6 Sibiu
Ardud Erdeed 4.5 Satu Mare
Vișeu de Sus Oberwischau 4.0 Maramureș
Deta Detta 4.0 Timiș
Tomnatic Triebswetter 3.9 Timiș
Semlac Semlak 3.6 Arad
Peregu Mare Deutschpereg 3.5 Arad
Sântana Sanktanna 2.9 Arad
Jimbolia Hatzfeld 2.9 Timiș
Jibert Seiburg 2.8 Brașov
Măieruş Nussbach 2.6 Brașov
Căpleni Kaplau 2.4 Satu Mare
Lovrin Lowrin 2.3 Timiș
Carei Grosskarol 2.3 Satu Mare
Parța Paratz 2.1 Timiș
Buziaș Busiasch 2.1 Timiș
Periam Perjamosch 2.1 Timiș
Sânnicolau Mare Grosssanktnikolaus 2.1 Timiș
Pâncota Pankota 2.1 Arad
Cristian Neustadt 1.9 Brașov
Lenauheim Schadat 1.9 Timiș
Lugoj Logosch 1.9 Timiș
Miercurea Sibiului Reussmarkt 1.8 Sibiu
Rupea Reps 1.7 Brașov
Sânpetru Petersberg 1.7 Brașov
Ungra Galt 1.7 Brașov
Reșița Reschitz 1.7 Caraș-Severin
Ciacova Tschakowa 1.6 Timiș
Cisnădie Heltau 1.5 Sibiu
Mediaș Mediasch 1.5 Sibiu
Moșna Meschen 1.5 Sibiu
Sighișoara Schässburg 1.5 Mureș
Oțelu Roșu Ferdinandsberg 1.4 Caraș-Severin
Timișoara Temeschburg/Temeswar 1.4 Timiș
Nițchidorf Nitzkydorf 1.4 Timiș
Hălchiu Heldsdorf 1.4 Sibiu
Merghindeal Mergeln 1.3 Sibiu
Beba Veche Altbeba 1.3 Timiș
Iacobeni Jakobsdorf 1.3 Sibiu
Lipova Lippa 1.3 Arad County
Homorod Hamruden 1.2 Brașov
Hărman Honigberg 1.2 Brașov
Matei Mathesdorf 1.2 Bistrița-Năsăud
Sebeș Mühlbach 1.1 Alba
Becicherecu Mic Kleinbetschkerek 1.1 Timiș
Caransebeș Karansebesch 1.1 Caraș-Severin
Bod Brenndorf 1.1 Brașov
Brateiu Pretai 1.0 Brașov
Bocșa Neuwerk 1.0 Caraș-Severin
Satu Mare Sathmar 1.0 Satu Mare
Sibiu Hermannstadt 1.0 Sibiu
Mănăstirea Humorului Humora Kloster 1.0 Suceava
Agnita Agnetheln 1.0 Sibiu
Hoghilag Halvelagen 1.0 Sibiu
Dumbrăveni Elisabethstadt 1.0 Sibiu
Șeica Mare Marktschelken 1.0 Sibiu
Codlea Zeiden 1.0 Brașov
Gătaia Gattaja 1.0 Timiș
Măureni Moritzfeld 1.0 Caraș-Severin

Current population by countyEdit

Below is represented the notable German minority population (of at least 1%) for some counties, according to the 2011 census.

County Percent[34]
  Satu Mare 1.5%
  Timiș 1.3%
  Caraș-Severin 1.1%
  Sibiu 1.1%

Administration, official representation, and politicsEdit

The Lutsch house, the seat of the FDGR/DFDR in Sibiu (German: Hermannstadt).
The Schuller house, the seat of the FDGR/DFDR in Mediaș (German: Mediasch).

In the wake of World War I, the German minority in unified Romania had been represented by a number of political parties which gradually gained parliamentary presence during the early to mid-early 20th century, more specifically the Swabian Group, the Group of Transylvanian Saxons, the German Party (which briefly formed an alliance known as the Hungarian German Bloc with the Magyar Party), and the German People's Party (the latter two having a national socialist political orientation after 1930). In stark contrast to the political mutation of both aforementioned parties, the Anti-Fascist Committee of German Workers in Romania was formed shortly thereafter as a democratic counterpart. After the end of World War II, all of the political parties representing the German minority in Romania were either disbanded or ceased to exist.[citation needed]

Subsequently, just after the Romanian Revolution, the entire German-speaking community in post-1989 Romania has been represented at official level by the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania (German: Demokratisches Forum der Deutschen in Rumänien, Romanian: Forumul Democrat al Germanilor din România). The forum is therefore a political platform which has a centrist ideology aiming to support the rights of the German minority in Romania.[citation needed]

Since 1989, the DFDR/FDGR has competed both in local and legislative elections, cooperating in the process with two historical parties of the Romanian politics, namely the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Christian Democratic National Peasants' Party (PNȚ-CD), most notably at local administrative level, in cities such as Sibiu (German: Hermannstadt), Timișoara (German: Temeschburg), or Baia Mare (German: Frauenbach or Neustadt). The DFDR/FDGR also adheres to a pro-monarchic stance regarding the matter of monarchy restoration in Romania.[citation needed]

Until 1 January 2007 (i.e. the date of accession of Romania to the European Union), the DFDR/FDGR was also an observing member of the European Parliament, briefly affiliated with the European People's Party (EPP; German: Europäische Volkspartei), between January and November of the same year, with only one seat occupied by Ovidiu Victor Ganț.[35]

Culture and educationEdit

Samuel von Brukenthal National College in Sibiu (German: Hermannstadt)

In 1922, all political representatives of the German community in Romania founded the Cultural League of Germans in Sibiu which was initially led by Richard Csaki. The league was in charge of organizing post-university summer courses, sending books, and providing teaching material through various lecturers in the settlements inhabited by ethnic Germans.[36]

Nowadays, there are two German-language schools in Bucharest, namely Deutsche Schule Bukarest and Deutsches Goethe-Kolleg Bukarest. The Deutsche Schule Bukarest serves Kinderkrippe, Kindergarten, Grundschule, and Gymnasium (high school).[37]

In Timișoara, 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 Romanticist poet. Nowadays, the Nikolaus Lenau High School is considered the most important of its kind from Banat.[38]

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 is one Goethe Institut cultural centre based in Bucharest as well as five Deutsche Kultzertrum based in Iași, Brașov, Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara and Sibiu.[39]


Logo of Allgemeine Deutsche Zeitung für Rumänien

The Allgemeine Deutsche Zeitung für Rumänien (ADZ) is the daily German-language newspaper in contemporary Romania. To this day, it is the only German-language newspaper published in Eastern Europe.[40] Regional German-language publications also include the Neue Banater Zeitung in Banat and the Hermannstädter Zeitung for the city of Sibiu (German: Hermannstadt). Previously, in the passing of time, other historical German-language newspapers included: Arbeiter-Zeitung, Temeswarer Nachrichten, and Banater Arbeiter-Presse in Banat, Vorwärts in Bukovina, and Neuer Weg in Bucharest.


See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Official Romanian census from 2011
  2. ^ Dr. Gerhard Reichning, Die deutschen Vertriebenen in Zahlen, Teil 1, Bonn 1995, Page 17
  3. ^ Die deutschen Vertreibungsverluste. Bevölkerungsbilanzen für die deutschen Vertreibungsgebiete 1939/50. Herausgeber: Statistisches Bundesamt – Wiesbaden. - Stuttgart: Kohlhammer Verlag, 1958 Page 46
  4. ^ "Romania's ethnic Germans get their day in the spotlight". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  5. ^ Daniel Ursprung (2015). "The German Minority in Romania: a Historical Overview" (PDF). University of Zürich. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  6. ^ Dr. Hans Georg Franchy, Horst Göbbel, Heide Wellmann, Annemarie Wagner, Werner Reschner (2010). "Wir Nösner, Beiträge zur Geschichte und Kultur der Stadt Bistritz und des Nösnerlandes" (PDF). HOG Bistritz-Nösen e.V. (in German). Retrieved 27 June 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Monica Barcan, Adalbert Millitz, The German Nationality in Romania (1978), page 42: "The Satu Mare Swabians are true Swabians, their place of origin being Württemberg, in the land of Baden-Württemberg. They were colonized between 1712 and 1815. Their most important settlements are Satu Mare (German: Sathmar) and Petrești (German: Petrifeld) in northwestern Romania."
  8. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania (3 May 2013). "The 16th session of the Romanian-German Joint Governmental Commission on the problems of German ethnics in Romania". Press release. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  9. ^ Thomas Nägler. "The Germans in Romania". Institul Cultural Român (ICR). Retrieved 20 March 2020.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ І. Я. Яцюк, Тернопільський національний педагогічний університет ім. Володимира Гнатюка, Наукові записки. Серія “Філологічна”, УДК 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.”
  12. ^ Forumul Democrat al Germanilor din Constanța (2003). "On the Germans of Dobrogea". Institutul Cultural Român. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  13. ^ Remus Creţan, David Turnock and Jaco Woudstra (2008). "Identity and multiculturalism in the Romanian Banat". Journal of Mediterranean Geography (110): 17–26. doi:10.4000/mediterranee.523. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  14. ^ "Perjamosch, Banat: List of Families Connected to Hubert Family". Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  15. ^ "The French in Banat: Story on Tomnatic/Triebswetter". 27 July 2020.
  16. ^ Smaranda Vultur. "De l'Ouest à l'Est et de l'Est à l'Ouest: les avatars identitaires des Français du Banat". (in French). Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  17. ^ Victor Rouă (27 May 2017). "The History Of The Medieval Saxon Fortified Churches In Transylvania". The Dockyards. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  18. ^ Victor Rouă (22 September 2015). "Top 5 Transylvanian Saxon Fortified Churches". The Dockyards. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  19. ^ Victor Rouă (14 October 2015). "10 Mesmerising Medieval Landmarks of Transylvania". The Dockyards. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  20. ^ Victor Rouă (4 September 2015). "Top Five Transylvanian Saxon Fortified Cities You Should Visit In Romania". The Dockyards. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  21. ^ Dimitrie Macrea, "Originea și structura limbii române", Probleme de lingvistică română (Bucharest: Editura Științifică, 1961), 7–45: p. 32.
  22. ^ Academia Română, Dicționarul limbii române moderne, ed. Dimitrie Macrea (Bucharest: Editura Academiei, 1958).
  23. ^ Gabriela Pană Dindelegan, ed., The Grammar of Romanian, Oxford University Press, 2013, p. 3, ISBN 978-0-19-964492-6
  24. ^ Hans Dama, "Lexikale Einflüsse im Rumänischen aus dem österreichischen Deutsch" ("Lexical influences of 'Austrian'-German on the Romanian Language") Archived 2011-08-18 at the Wayback Machine (in German)
  25. ^ ""Șmecher", "fraier" și "mișto". Cum au apărut în limba română și ce însemnau inițial aceste cuvinte". (in Romanian). 28 April 2020. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  26. ^ "Istoria Transilvaniei - Istoria până la 1914". România Turistică (in Romanian). Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  27. ^ Eberhard-Wolfgang Wittstock. "Şedinţa Camerei Deputaţilor din 1 aprilie 2003, stenogramă". Camera Deputaților (in Romanian). Retrieved 12 August 2020.
  28. ^ Chuck Sudetic (28 December 1990). "Ethnic Germans in Romania Dwindle". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  29. ^ Ovidiu Hațegan (2 February 2020). "AUDIO Povestea deportării etnicilor germani din România, prin ochii Katarinei Meitert. "Nemții", primele victime ale "salvatorilor" sovietici". G4media (in Romanian). Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  30. ^ Abraham, Florin (25 September 2017). Romania since the Second World War: A Political, Social and Economic History. ISBN 9781472526298.
  31. ^ Ziarul Româ | Klaus Iohannis: «Germanii din România sunt apreciați și respectați de toți românii» (in Romanian)
  32. ^ Ministerul Afacerilor Externe - 25 de ani de la semnarea tratatului de prietenie România-Germania (in Romanian)
  33. ^ | Mesajul lui Iohannis pentru președintele ales al Germaniei (in Romanian)
  34. ^ a b Denotes percent (%) of total population
  35. ^ "Deputat: Ovidiu Victor Ganţ". (in Romanian). Retrieved 13 April 2022.
  36. ^ Vasile Ciobanu. "Relațiile culturale dintre grupurile de germani din România în primul deceniu interbelic" (PDF). Țara Bârsei (in Romanian). Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  37. ^ "Entstehung Archived 2015-02-15 at the Wayback Machine." Deutsche Schule Bukarest. Retrieved on 20 February 2015.
  38. ^ (in German) Geschichte Temeswars Schulwesen
  39. ^ Locations - Goethe-Institut (in English)
  40. ^ Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (in German)
  41. ^ "Kerwei". Bobtrad Banaters or Banters Around the World. Retrieved 10 August 2020.