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The Saxon of the Bukovina was a Banat Swabian

Obituary of the meritorious senior publicist Franz Schuttack (94), Aalen / by Luzian Geier

Translated by Nick Tullius
Published at DVHH.org 14 Sep 2015 by Jody McKim Pharr.

Deaths remind us again and again of what we have failed to ask our predecessors and that they always take much knowledge to the grave. This applies to the demise of the senior of German journalists from Southeast Europe in Germany, Franz Schuttack, 94. He left us and our world in full spiritual awareness on November 18 of this year in a retirement home in Aalen, that had become his new home.

So we will probably never learn exactly how it came to be that the young publicist at several metropolitan magazines, a vegetable farmer's son from the Banat Village of Lovrin, at age 19 could publish in Bucharest a book about "Communism - The barbarism of the XXth century" with a preface by the already well known university professor Nichifor Crainic. Or how the barely 20 years old  Banat German (born on July 4, 1922) - who had attended only Romanian schools - became an interpreter in the rank of technical adviser to the Romanian Labour Minister.

We know for sure that Schuttack, even after military service (from 1943, in the Romanian and then in the German army), long war captivity that carried him through 17 Western prisoner of war camp, and escape, as well as a new beginning as a farm worker in Westphalia remained to the end of his life a resolute, active anti-Communist and campaigned for uncovering the atrocities and crimes of Communist regimes in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. His Christian conservative worldview and political conviction is demonstrated by his 40 years of membership and his work in the CDU Aalen, for which he was honoured in 2012. His publications bear even stronger witness of this conviction. In the early 50s Schuttack was publisher of the “Donauschwäbische  Rundschau” in Aalen, then editor-in-chief of that newspaper, which under his direction bore the name "Der Donauschwabe" ("The Danube Swabian"), from July 1, 1957, until his retirement in 1987).

From 1958 on Schuttack was also editor of the "Donauschwaben-Kalender" ("Danube Swabian calendar") a yearbook (each edition with about 200 pages) for South East Germans, that was published for 35 years. These homeland books - produced in good Banat calendar tradition, cheap and with a large circulation - with the rich illustrations and reaching a total of 7160 pages, constitute a valuable documentation for all Danube German groups, in many areas, from genealogy and homeland history, to history in general, and up to literature and music (see also, for example, Nikolaus Engelmann "The Danube Swabians Calendar 1989", published in "Banater Post", November 5, 1989, p. 9). 

In this activity, the journalist did not allow himself to be co-opted by any homeland association from the Danube region, repeatedly earning him difficulties and hostility, even though it was known that he was considered a "key founder of the homeland associations of the Transylvania Saxons and Banat Swabians" headquartered in Bielefeld. He was a supporter of „doing things together“, as he had tried it as a publisher (1949-1950) of the information letter of the Romania-Germans.

In contrast to other newspapers of the homeland associations of the Germans from South-Eastern Europe in the Federal Republic of Germany, his magazine was always produced by only a very narrow group of contributors, by Schuttack and his wife as secretary and editors, and produced a total of 1589 newspaper editions (see Walter Tonţa in this paper, no. 13-14 of July 10, 2012, on the occasion of the publisher’s 90th birthday). Thus the intelligence services did not manage to infiltrate it with informants.

Schuttack did not receive journalists from the Communist bloc. In addition, he took exemplary measures to ensure that his contributors and information carriers were protected and disguised. That led, among other things, to the reality that none of the newspapers of the homeland associations in Germany were so thoroughly read and rated by the members and the secret services and the censorship in Bucharest as „Der Donauschwabe" ("The Danube Swabian"). The writer, journalist, and cultural politician Heinrich Zillich, a Transylvanian Saxon, rated the newspaper as the most important among the Danube Swabian newspapers.

The Banater Schuttack was a self-professed friend of the Romanians (and fan of Spain) and maintained through correspondence for many decades, until old age, the connections with his Romanian colleagues, who then also encouraged him after the fall of Communism, to collaborate with the magazine "Memoria" ("Memory") . In the 2000-2010 decade, Schuttack documented and published in that Bucharest magazine about the deportations to Russia and to the Bărăgan from Alt- and Neusanktanna, Billed,  Deutsch-Stamora, Liebling, Lovrin, Neupetsch, Jahrmarkt/Überland, Sankandres, Großkomlosch and Lunga.

Likewise, he provided Cicerone Ibrahim (who lived in Paris), with data and facts for the encyclopedia-like work on the victims of communist terror in Romania ("Victimele terorii comuniste. Arestaţi, torturaţi, întemniţaţi, ucişi. Dictionar"). Unlike any other of the homeland association publications, he devoted himself to the Romanian diaspora and its cultural and political concerns, in the early years even as a contributor. As a consequence, he and his magazine were often mentioned and praised in the Romanian-language broadcasts in Western Europe and overseas.

That was the case in a broadcast in Canada, where the "Saxon" (they probably meant Transylvanian Saxon) "from Bukovina" was described as an exception among the German language reporting in the German media at that time. Why in the broadcast of January 20, 1990, the Banater or Danube Swabian became a Saxon from the Bukovina, is not known. The radio hour emphasized the attention paid by Schuttack in his magazine of the 70s to the new releases in Romanian and the publishing of the Romanian diaspora.

In consultation with his wife Brunhilde (née Weese died in 2012 in Aalen), a Sudeten German, and the Theiss-Verlag, Schuttack left the entire estate of the editorial staff of the magazine and calendar to the Institute of Danube-Swabian History and Ethnic Culture in Tübingen.

Further personal publications: "Always guide and guardian, 'The Danube Swabian' for 25 years in the service of  Danube Swabian ethnic group scattered all over the world", Aalen 1976, 16 pages; and “Festschrift for the 'Day of the Danube-Swabians' in Ulm/Donau, August 5-10, 1958", Aalen, 1958, 70 pages.

In 1992 Dr. Anton Peter Petri published a short biography in his "Biographischen Lexikon des Banater Deutschtums“ ( Sp. 1782-1784) ("Biographical Encyclopedia of Banat Germanness"). An appreciation of his work was published by Dr. Horst Fassel on the occasion of his 80th birthday in the Nr. 2/2002 (19th edition, p. 57-59) of the magazine "Banatica" under the title "Against forgetting: Franz Schuttack is 80".

An extensive documentation on the life and work of the "newspaper and calendar maker out of passion", who was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit (of the Federal Republic of Germany) for this life's work and for his lasting contributions to the Danube Swabians, was written by Walter Tonţa, who had maintained a connection to the senior in the home for seniors over the years. The documentation was presented as a reasoned tribute at the Cultural Convention 2004 in Sindelfingen, and published in the Conference Proceedings 2005 (pp. 87-109). An article about Schuttack's "Donauschwaben Kalender" was also published by Tonţa in the "Banater Kalender 2008" (pp. 86-90).

A last goodbye to Franz Schuttack was said according to his own wish with a memorial service in the presence of his inner circle at the Waldfriedhof cemetery in Aalen.  

From the newspaper Banater Post, January 5,  2017

Translated by Nick Tullius, Ottawa, 2017.01.08
 


Last Updated: 10 Aug 2020

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