Banat | Village Coordinator: Nick Tullius


The Last of the German Village of Alexanderhausen
by Anton Zollner
Translated by Diana Lambing

‘Sandra’ and its new citizens (1994)

On the Banat Heath, equidistant from Temeschburg and Gross Sankt Nikolaus lies the former German village of Alexanderhausen (today: Sandra; Hungarian: Sandorhaza). Transport-wise, the old Swabian village is well situated in the road network as it sits on the National Route DN 6 between Temeschburg and Gross Sankt Nikolaus. However, there is no provision for a rail connection and the nearest station is in Bogarosch (Bulgarus) but the road leading there is impassable. Despite the good road connection to Temeschburg and Gross Sankt Nikolaus, by 1996 there had no longer been a bus service for quite a while, not even to the parish centre of Billed. Up until 1968 Alexanderhausen had always had its own local authority, but then it was demoted to a village with no independent authority.

According to Karl Kraushaar, Germans settled in Alexanderhausen in 1827. Gheorghe Drinovan states that the village has been documented since 1832. The church registers were introduced in 1833; the congregation at that time formed part of the parish of Bogarosch. Three years later in 1836 the Swabian village was given its own parish. In 1869, the village had a population of 1,798 and this number rose until it reached 1,928 in 1900. This is probably the highest number of inhabitants in the history of the village.

In 1910 the Germans formed over 88% of the population with a number of 1,580, which rose to 1,722 (nearly 93%) by 1920. In 1940, 1,695 people registered themselves as German nationals. As a result of the Second World War the number of Germans began to drop and at the same time the number of Romanian immigrants grew. In 1977, only 710 Germans were amongst the 2,190 inhabitants; the rest were made up of 1,394 Romanians, 51 Hungarians and 35 others. In the 1992 census, out of the 2,139 villagers, only 84 belonged to the German race. The number of Hungarians also dropped to 27 at the same time, and the rest to 14, whereas the number of Romanians had risen to 2,014. According to the Alexanderhausen HOG (home village association), only 42 Germans were left in the old village by February 1996. One can see from these figures of a typical Banat Swabian village that the former multi-national Banat was disappearing and being taken over by a Romanian one.

In Alexanderhausen there had been a serious housing shortage for several years, as was reported in the Temeschburg daily newspaper ‘Renastera banateana’ (Banat Renaissance) in April 1996. The Germans had left many large and beautiful houses behind when they emigrated en masse, but even at that time half of the houses were already in a totally dilapidated condition. The journalist Nicoleta Suciu wrote that ‘when the Germans left, they took with them the knowledge, understanding and manpower needed to run these rural communities’. She would also have noticed that large tracts of arable land had not even been tilled by mid April. The new inhabitants saw no reason to work in the fields any more, not knowing what there would be to harvest in the Autumn.

It was not until more than two years later, in July 2000, that the ‘Allgemeine Deutsche Zeitung fuer Rumaenien’ (ADZ) reported anything about the social behaviour of the new inhabitants of ‘Sandra’.  When they did, it was about a pub brawl in which six people were, luckily, only slightly injured. Valeriu P. visited a village bar with his ‘darlings’: a Pitbull and a Rottweiler!. Later, none of those present could say whether the owner had set his dogs onto someone or not. The fact is that the Pitbull managed to free itself from its muzzle and attacked Vasile Zubasu. The wife of the attacked man wanted to help him and in the process was also bitten by the dog several times. Then the woman’s brother, Petru Harsoaba, intervened and ran out into the street, returning with a stick. He began to hit not only the dog, but the owner as well, who then called on the other twelve customers to join in the fray. With that, a real fight started, ending in six people being injured. The Zubasu couple were taken to Temeschburg municipal hospital to have the bite wounds treated. After all that, one would think that some charges would have been brought. Amazingly, there was only one, but it wasn’t for dog biting or being beaten with a stick, but about...theft! One of those who had taken part in the brawl accused the man with the stick, Petru Harsoaba, of starting the fight in order to steal his mobile phone and wrist watch!

One would never have imagined such an event happening in German Alexanderhausen, but this pretty little village no longer exists. Today, there is only a ‘Sandra’ with its new citizens!

‘Justice’ in Sandra (2001)

Alexanderhausen (today: Sandra; Hungarian: Sandorhaza) is an immigrant settlement founded in 1833 and which today belongs to the parish of Billed. In the beginning, the settlers were spread amongst 101 farmhouses and 35 smallholdings. In 1910 there were 1,580 Germans living in the village, which represented more than 88% of the total population. Twenty years later, with the number at 1,722, they already made up nearly 93%. From then on, the number of Germans dropped continually, particularly as a consequence of the Second World War, until by 1989 they numbered barely 200. At the beginning of March 1990 the number of subscribers to the ‘Neue Banater Zeitung’ (NBZ) was 61 in Alexanderhausen. Despite the growing economic importance of the village due to the oil mining in the fields surrounding Alexanderhausen, the village was hardly mentioned in the Banat press after the fall of Ceausescu. Nor is there any way of knowing the number of Germans still living in the old village, let alone the kind of lives they lead today.

In one of the rare reports on Alexanderhausen the Romanian newspaper ‘Timisoara’, dated 12th November 1993, gave a small insight into the village today. Two Romanian inhabitants of the village, Dumitru Salcianu and Aristica Lascu, founders of the company ‘SALTIM’ AG (Ltd / Inc) bought premises at an auction at the beginning of 1992 to set up a village bakery, but before they even moved into the premises it was set on fire. Through the negligence of the local investigation authorities the arsonist remained at large and nor was the damage investigated. As the Billed local authority, the owner of the building, had no money for the necessary repairs, the company owners financed the costs themselves for the repair works and the fittings. Twelve million Lei was invested before the inauguration of the bakery. But a few weeks after the first loaves had been baked the gas supply was disconnected and the owners were forced to bring in the necessary bread for the villagers from Billed once again.

Now the mayor of Billed, Sabin Costar, had the perfect excuse to clear out the bakery premises. Without any Court judgment and no compensation for the money invested in the bakery, the proprietors had to empty the shop for the benefit of a Gheorghe Irimiciuc. Proceedings initiated by one of the ‘Kreispraefektur’ against the mayor had no effect. It looks as though ‘one hand was washing the other’, (i.e. some horse trading was going on).

Finally, the case became even more complicated when one of the owners, Aristica Lascu, obviously under outside influences, ‘played off’ the other (Dumitru Salcianu). He illegally signed, without consulting his partner, a statement signing over all premises of the company ‘SALTIM’;  the notice of foreclosure was confirmed with the company seal. Despite the invalidity of the statement given, the first partner of the company never received justice and nor did the mayor come before the judge.

This example confirms the claim of many of our compatriots who remain in the old country: that the rural villages have become lawless areas where it seems that tyranny rules.

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Last updated: 26 Aug 2020