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From the Banat to Canada and back in thoughts / Nikolaus Tullius is eighty
A life between poppies and maple leafs
By
Hans Gehl, Banater Post Nr. 20 * 20. Oktober 2015

Our ancestors have been described as people with portable roots, says the now 80 year old Nikolaus Tullius. Around the year 1940 they still  inhabited the Banat, a fertile piece of earth between the Danube, Theiss and Marosch. But in the 20th century they were almost completely scattered across all continents of the earth. His grandmother Katharina Beitz from Neusiedl and his grandfather Johann Lukas from Alexanderhausen emigrated in 1912 to America, where his mother was born in 1915. In 1920, the family returned home, and it was suddenly no longer in Hungary, but in Romania. Even though she was an American citizen, the mother was deported in 1945 to forced labor in the Soviet Union. The young son couldn't believe it. And he never would have guessed that poppy flowers and maple leaves would determine his long life. 

   As a young boy, Niki Tullius, born 1935 in Alexanderhausen, experienced the drafting of his father into the German army and the attempted escape of the villagers to the West. After the war, the Romania-Germans were disenfranchised, dispossessed and deported. His mother died during the forced labour in the Soviet Union, while his father ended up as prisoner of war in England and moved to Canada after his release. Supported alone by a grandmother and her sewing machine, Niki graduated from high school, studied electrical engineering at the Technical University "Politehnica" in Temeswar, obtained his engineering degree and started working at the municipal enterprise of Arad (ICAO).

   When his grandmother died in 1957 and he had thus lost his last roots, he managed in 1961 to join his father, who had settled down with a new family in Canada. What followed was the gradual integration in a new, unfamiliar environment, with all the initial difficulties awaiting an immigrant. The young man had to cope with a different social order, a new language, as well as different customs and traditions. He had to supplement his studies and find a job. And he succeeded: Tullius became a respected engineer employed by the largest Canadian telecommunications company  in Montreal, which later transferred him to its new Research and Development department in Ottawa.

   There, he finally found his dream job and founded a family that raised two sons. In his work, he dealt with the latest developments in semiconductor technology and the application of software to telecommunication systems. Later, he also contributed to the development of Canadian, American and international standards in his field. Tullius is the author of some twenty-five technical papers, most of which he presented at international conferences, thus experiencing many cities and countries of the world.

After his retirement in 2000, the author immersed himself with family research and the cultural traditions of his Banat ancestors in the Danube Swabian settlements of the Banat. He strives to make the history and culture of their ancestors available to the English-speaking descendants of the Danube Swabians all over the world. Examples of his works are accessible on the Internet at www.dvhh.org and www.dvhh.org/alexanderhausen. In 2011, a novel based on his life experiences was published under the title "From the Banat to Canada", first in German, then in English, and finally in Romanian.

  At present, the hourglass of life indicates almost empty. Author Nikolaus Tullius concludes: "Our time in this world is running out (...). Our generation is slowly leaving the stage. They were called the experience generation, because they had to survive the disastrous war and live with its consequences. Too many of them had to endure the loss of their parents, siblings or other loved ones. This was followed by the loss of our ancestral homeland. (...) In the end, no brass band will play the funeral march for us (...) In a cemetery West of the city of Ottawa, our last and eternal home is waiting for me and my family: four square metres of Canadian soil. Only a modest headstone of granite will testify, that a journey which began eight decades ago in the Banat, found here its end."

   But in between lie the exemplary experiences of a long and fulfilled life, that each reader can well understand, because they resemble his own experiences. In our past we lived through an unusual century, with interesting and extraordinary people.

Hans Gehl, Banater Post Nr. 20 * 20. Oktober 2015


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Last updated: 26 Aug 2020