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Situation in the (Romanian) Banat in the 1945 to 1950

by Nick Tullius

Regarding the first paragraph of The Deportation to the Baragan – 50 Years On, Lenauheimer Heimatblatt 2001, I would like to add a few comments hopefully to clarify the situation in the (Romanian) Banat in the 1945 to 1950 period.  The following comments reflect mainly the events in the village of Alexanderhausen, less than 10 km (or six miles) from Lenauheim, and I was an eye witness (a young one!).

As I remember it (and verified it on other sources), expropriation of DS property took place on 1945.10.18. The only people allowed to keep five hectares of land were those who had served in the Romanian army (as opposed to the German army). In our village, over 80 percent of the men had chosen the German army; they did not retain any land whatsoever. All that was left for them (or their family members, since the men were often in prison or doing slave labour in Romanian mines) was to work for meager wages at the new 'State Agricultural Enterprise' set up on the portion of the land expropriated from them, that had not been given to the Romanian 'colonists'.  To my recollection, the colonists also were given five hectares per family.  The offices of the State Agricultural Enterprise were set up in a couple of large houses in the centre of the village (Rondell) after the residents were thrown out for being Kulaks (chiaburi; Großbauern). The 'tractor centre' was set up in a large house previously owned by a DS family that did manage to flee in the fall of 1944, just as the Red Army was arriving. Many young boys found work as 'tractorists' [note to fans of literature: in the 'socialist-realist' literature, male and female tractorists were frequent heroes]. As I recall, horses and cows were simply 'expropriated', that is taken away by the colonists and given to their own
people.
 
       Those retaining the five hectares of land (all Romanians and a few Germans) initially were the new rich people in the village, lovingly called "nine-Joch-farmers" (5 ha = 9 Joch). But they had to deliver a part of every crop (called "quota") to the government, at prices set by the government.  Since that quota was set without consideration of factors such as weather, soil conditions, etc. it sometimes exceeded the total crop harvested, and the farmers had to pay the difference.   Collectivization' was decreed by 'the Party and the Government' (official lingo) in 1948. All nine-Joch-farmers 'volunteered' to donate their land to the newly formed 'Collective Agricultural Enterprise' as did the majority of previously landless Germans. Now they worked the land in common, in organized teams, and supposedly rewarded with money and products, in accordance with their productivity.
 
       It appears that at some point in the sixties and seventies this system improved the life of our DS somewhat (until Ceausescu got entrenched?). I know that there was what turned out be the last flowering of German-language newspapers, literature, and theatre. Sorry I cannot report on that period, since I had already left the country for the new world. It would be nice indeed if another eyewitness would tell us about the sixties, seventies, and eighties.

 [Published at DVHH.org 2006 by Jody McKim Pharr]

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