Banater Post Nr. 4, February 20, 2022
"Banat-Canadian" Nikolaus Tullius
new autobiographical book of memories.
Original in German (PDF)
Review by Hans Gehl
Memories of a long life
Anyone who has crossed the threshold of the eighties feels the urge to take stock of his or her long life, to come to terms with much that has been cherished, and also to pass on his or her experiences to those who come after. Different life experiences in two or more countries are also nothing new in our turbulent times. Banat Swabians spent one part of their lives at home, the other part on the Rhine or in the Bavarian Alps, in Austria, France, in the United States of America or even in Australia. Nikolaus Tullius was drawn to Canada by life as a young man in 1961. As the book cover shows, he went from the "red pipatsch" (corn poppy) to the "red maple leaf" of Canada, where the remaining two square meters of earth await him for his final rest. But all this
is yet to come. First, on 219 pages, a further review of an eventful life in two worlds.
This book of memories, published by BoD in Norderstedt, takes the reader first to the Banat village of Alexanderhausen/Şandra in the Romanian Banat, from there to the county seat of Temeswar/Timişoara and the border town of Arad, and later to Montréal and Ottawa, in Canada, where Tullius' life continued. The 102 pages of the book take these stations into account and move the setting of the plot to these places. Diplomaed Engineer Nikolaus Tullius is not only an expert in electrical engineering, but also multilingual. He masters his "first mother tongue", namely his native Rhenish-Franconian-Palatinate dialect and - still fluent - High German, in the English-speaking environment, plus the former national language Romanian, to which English and French were
added. Thus he was able to publish his autobiographical novel in German "Vom Banat nach Kanada", 2011, shortly thereafter in an English and also in a Romanian version (for his Romanian fellow students and for the English-speaking descendants of the Danube Swabians all over the world), with whom he remains in contact via the Internet.
In addition, Tullius also published in Timisoara (2017) the 108-page volume "Gschichte vun drhem" („Stories from back home“) in his Banat Swabian dialect. In the present book "Schwowisch Gschriebenes" („Swabian dialect writing“) takes up 134 pages (81-215). Furthermore, Nikolaus Tullius is at present also the most important writer of the Swabian dialect page "Mei Mottersproch" („My mother tongue“) in the newspaper "Banater Post" of the Landsmannschaft der Banater Schwaben (Country Association of Banat Swabians). This indicates the depth of the roots of cosmopolitan Banater Tullius, while the present volume is an expressive commitment to both worlds, which granted him home and purpose in life. Since our faithful dialect writer Hans Niedermeier passed away a
few years ago, Nikolaus Tullius has taken his place. I was always happy about a dialect text he sent to me, because apart from small standardizations in the spelling, there was nothing to improve and I could readily pass on all the "Schwowische Gschichte" by Nikolaus Tullius to the Banater Post. Helen Alba reaches similar conclusions in her Nohwort zu den "Gschichte vun drhem" (Epilogue to the "Stories from back home“) which only confirms their correctness.
And what are the "memories" of the Banat emigrant in the New World? The first impression when browsing through the book is already given by the extremely sparingly, but effectively used, well reproduced photos, of the author himself (as a graduate, with wife and sons and currently). Then the parents and grandparents, then the two-towered village church, the war memorial and the baptismal certificate, also a church consecration celebration of 1934; the engineer's diploma, the appointment as honorary citizen of the home municipality; as a prefix also all ancestors up to the fifth generation and a picture with compatriots in Rastatt - everything that seemed essential to the author. And no - as usual - diluting flood of pictures, since the reader can color all
200 expressive pictures to the descriptive texts himself and needs no photographic crutches. A "memory book" is not a picture book for children and not a "picture" newspaper.
The texts themselves testify to the rigorous but sure selection of the incorruptible technician. The "Stations of My Life" begin with "Remnants." The author's legacy to posterity involves the immediate family and considers the better living conditions, better nutrition and health care, but also the useful and false flood of information of our time. The retrospective covers the Habsburg settlement in the Banat crown land, which was reclaimed by the settlers after the Turkish rule, the harmful effects of the First and Second World Wars and the recovery attempts, the Ceauşescu dictatorship and his aspirations for a Romanian, socialist nation.
The author's family history is connected with America, where his mother was born in 1915 after the emigration of his grandparents. The family returned and the mother was also deported in 1945 to the Soviet Union for forced labor, where she died, so the young son (whose father was at the front) was raised by the disabled grandmother. He initially commuted to Timisoara, where he graduated from lyceum and then studied electrical engineering. In 1957 the grandmother died. After graduating from the Polytechnic (1958), he was employed for two years at the Municipal Enterprise in Arad. At the same time he tried to leave the country to join his father, who had come to Canada via England. He succeeded in 1961 after the usual harassment that many Banat readers have
gone through. His father received him (with a new family) in Montréal. Nikolaus had to work his way up, penniless, and became an employee of the largest Canadian telecommunications company. From Montréal he joined the newly established research and development subsidiary in Ottawa, started a family and achieved success in his field of research. He was able to travel to conferences and see much of the world, including private vacations with his wife that would never have been possible in Romania. Tullius also remained connected to his Romanian fellow students and Timisoara by attending class reunions.
The working life ended in 2000. From then on Tullius did family research and devoted himself to the history and culture of his Banat ancestors. Now his novel-like life experiences and short dialect texts have appeared, proving that this source has not dried up inside him. Tullius divides his "Schwowisch Geschriebenes" into the chapters: Dorf uf dr Heed, Dorflewe, Was vorlumm is and Vrschiedenes, where each chapter describes funny, serious, historical cultural-historical and also curious topics, which would need a detailed explanation (it is best to read them yourself). In the process, we learn about the actual plot and its circumstances, but the young person's retrospective view of the events also comes to light. Each story in itself has its value
and would be worthy of a review, whether it is historical, social or personal. Also worthy of mention are the topical dialect texts describing experiences in America, such as "Vum Neijohr zum Njujiehr und was drbei rauskummt" (namely grotesque things like: "Ich fohn dich morje frieh", because the settled-in Canadians know what English means phone ('to call'). Or "Mir watsche telewischn", English to watch television). In our country, many listeners and readers don't know what "lockdown" (even "partial lockdown" 'half lockdown' etc, or "bustern", from 'booster 'to freshen up') means, but neither politicians nor presenters care. The main thing is that several thousand Anglicisms are added every year as "enrichment".
In conclusion, a reference to the concluding "Howwllied," a parody of Ferdinand Raimund (1790-1836) by Nikolaus Tullius, "with a thank-you to the poet of origin":
(...) One thinks he is too poor, / The other much too rich.
The war then sets its carpenter’s plane thereon/ And equalizes them all.
One remains in Russia then / The other in the Baragan
The fewest die at home.
And those who moved to Germany/ Start over once again.
They build houses and save money/ And argue, let me explain,
About cars this time, not about their fields. (…)
Christa Albert and Hans Schuch, the representatives of the HOG Alexanderhausen, enumerate in the final chapter "Roots in the heart, wings in the mind" the stations of the life of Nikolaus Tullius and justify his appointment as "honorary citizen of Şandra/Alexanderhausen". He can serve as a role model for many other Banater Swabians. A fulfilled life "between poppies and maple leafs ", which may end more optimistically than it began. The author has honestly contributed his part and can quietly enjoy his remaining years.
Nikolaus Tullius: Erinnerungen eines Banat-Kanadiers (Memories of a Banat-Canadian). Norderstedt: BoD – Books on Demand, 2022. 219 pages with numerous illustrations ISBN:978-3-7557-4613-3. Price: 9,90 Euro. The book is available from the BoD bookshop (www.bod.de), Amazon, and other vendors.