After the German colonists arrived in Transylvania, they formed a German ethnic group called in the remaining documents from that time "Saxonnes" in Latin, derived afterwards in "Sachsen" in German, Romanian translation - "Sasii". After the Second World War ended, the Transylvanian Saxons and the Swabians from Banat region went through a very difficult time, as many of them were deported to the Soviet Union. After 1989, as a result of the collapse of the communist regime and out of fear of losing their cultural identity, a mass exodus of Saxons to the old Transylvanian home land has begun.
Where did the Transylvanian Saxons goĂ
The Foundation of the Transylvanian Saxons, headquartered in Germany, provides several statistics and answers the question about where do the Transylvanian Saxons live nowadays. More than 220,000 Transylvanian Saxons live in Germany, 15,000 in Austria, approximately 25,000 in the USA, 8,000 in Canada and less than 15,000 in Transylvania. They are seen as the true successors of a German cultural tradition over 850 years` old in the South-Eastern Europe. They are aware of their origin and role in the history and they are proud of everything they have accomplished over the centuries. This information was made public in 2004, when the Foundation celebrated its 25 years of existence.
After the exodus of the Transylvanian Saxons, there were many citadel-churches left in Transylvania, some of them established by UNESCO as world cultural heritage sites. The desire to learn about the Transylvanian culture raised the interest of Prince Charles, who initiated projects for Sighisoara, Biertan and Viscri. The Foundation of Transylvanian Saxons, headquartered in Munich, entered into a close collaboration with the Romanian institutions in order to save the cultural heritage of the Saxons from Romania. The main interest is in the citadel-churches from the places which were once inhabited by Transylvanian Saxons.
Restoration achieved through projects
The citadel-churches from Prejmer, Biertan, Valea Viilor and Viscri, alongside with the Rural Citadel from Calnic are enjoying protection because they are included in the list of world cultural heritage sites. Some of them have undergone restoration works through projects, but, out of the approximately 140 citadel-churches, not all of them can be reconditioned, being left behind by the parishioners who emigrated.