Thus we wove the tale of our exceptionalism, while sharing big slices of dark bread with marmalade, even in those times of shortage. Rita, my best friend, and Hans, my ”milk nurse brother,” will always have a special place as heroes in my heart; for they had saved their mothers from the deportations to Siberia during WW II. The war was not yet over, when more than 300 Saxon men and women between 18 and 45 from our village alone were deported. Only mothers of infants younger than one year of age were exempted. Some five years later, less than 200 of those deportees returned. It was seen as the beginning of the end for the community.
I used to read the fairytales of Andersen and the Grimm brothers and about the pranks of Max and Moritz from books with gilt pages and Gothic letters like tendrils, books people passed on from home to home over several generations of children. There were also the Saxon fairytales, which, as I discovered later, closely related to the stories of the furry medieval fox, Maistre Renard, from the other end of the Continent. The massive building where our school was had been built in the 19th century. But the first recorded (German) school of Râşnov dated back to 1510.
The 1940s deportations had so dramatically diminished the number of Saxon children that, even with those few Romanian children (like myself) who joined the German school, we had only one teacher for two of these small classes. After reading from the Lesebuch, in which the longest text was about “Genosse Jossif Wissarionowitsch Stalin”, the teacher left his desk and sat among us, or took us to the forest, taught us the merry old songs and told us the story of the Nibelungs. We were sure that the treacherous leaf had fallen on Siegfried’s shoulder right there in our own forests; and it must have been not far from the brick kiln that he, all thirsty from hunting, stopped to drink from the well. We kept finding traces of tar on the fortress walls, memorial scars from the invasions of the Turks and Tartars. We picked up sea shells at the foot of the walls; for, as we knew, once upon a time this land had been the bottom of the SarmatianSea. When we looked down from the mountains at the BarsaLand, we could just make out the place where the ruins of the ancient Roman fortress lay buried under the ploughed fields. While stern mountain winds blew all around us, we clung to walls and battlements up there. Some of the fortress walls were hidden under profuse ivy, like in Dornroesschen, the German Sleeping Beauty. ”How could we stop things from sinking into the dust?” we wondered; “Maybe through really keeping our eyes open.”