New settlers arrived in ‘the land beyond the forests’ beginning in the mid-12th century. According to legend, a Pied Piper lured local children away from the German town of Hamelin; they disappeared into a mountain and travelled underground until emerging from a cave in Transylvania where they settled into seven cities. The tale is believed to be inspired by the colonization of Central European territories by King Géza II of Hungary, when young Germans were led to Transylvania to fortify border towns. The skilled ‘Saxons’ built a productive society there and for generations lived peacefully alongside Hungarians, Romanians and Roma, while nurturing their specific identity.
In the 20th century wars and communism uprooted the people. During World War II they served in three armies (for Romania, Germany and Hungary) and became both victim and executioner. In 1945 more than 70,000 Transylvanian Saxons were apprehended by Soviet occupiers and deported to labour camps in Siberia. The new pro-Soviet government of Romania suppressed their historical rights and confiscated properties.
After the fall of communism in 1989, around 90% of the Saxons who remained fled Transylvania within a few months. Half a million people migrated to Germany and Austria, or to North America in search of a new life, and the deserted medieval villages their ancestors founded began to deteriorate. Now that very few Saxons remain in Transylvania, their history and legacy are in danger of disappearing entirely.
Today some who left Romania have returned in search of their roots and are working to preserve their heritage. This book highlights some of the last Saxons’ own stories surrounding their identity, memory, traditions and life experience.
Texts by Pascual Martínez + Vincent Sáez, Marlene Stanciu, Günter Czernetzky, Karl Hann, Uwe Hann and Alex Herberth
Design by Tiffany Jones, Pascual Martínez + Vincent Sáez
Published with financial support granted by the Romanian Cultural Institute.
Reviews + Press
“…hooks the curiosity of the reader from the first pages.” – Gloria Crespo Maclennan (El Pais)
“What attracts me to this book is that its narrative strength overlaps, showing the integral ability of the two photographers to use text and images for visual narration.” – He Yining, Paper magazine (China)
Feature in Babelia – El País
Review on TXT lab by Rakel Gómez Vazquez
Feature in ABC, “Luchamos por contar historias con imágenes que perduren en el tiempo” (Spanish)
Feature in Clavoardiendo magazine (Spanish)
Feature in Yogurt Magazine online
Feature on Photographic Museum of Humanity
* Finalist in VERZASCA FOTO FESTIVAL AWARDS 2020
* IACK’s Choice of 2019
* Eight favorite photography books in 2019, selected by He Yining for Paper Magazine, China
* Favourite Photobooks of 2019, Ola Søndenå
* Gabriela Cendoya’s selected Books for Christmas
* The best photobooks to give for Christmas, Clavoardiendo Magazine recommended by Nacho Moreno
* Photobookstore Recommended books
* POLYCOPIES 2019 Recommended books (PDF)
* Selected photobooks of 2019 by Isaac Ruperez
Friday 17 January – MADRID – Discussion and book signing from 6pm at Ivorypress, C/Aviador Zorita 46-48
23 January – MURCIA – Presentation at CENDEAC from 8pm, Cuartel de Artillería, Calle Madre Elisea Oliver Molina, pabellón 5
7 February – ALICANTE – Presentation at Pynchon&Co Bookshop from 7pm, C/ Poeta Quintana 37
20 February – VALENCIA – Presentation at Bangarang Bookshop from 7pm, C/Historiador Diago 9
28 February – MADRID – Presentation at Lens Photography School from 8pm, Paseo de la Esperanza, 5
19 March – MALAGA – Presentation at Apertura Center of Photography and Arts from 7pm, C/ Victoria, 16
20 March – GRANADA – Presentation at La Ampliadora Photography School from 7pm, C/ Verónica de la Magdalena 31
BOOK SIGNING AND LAUNCH AT POLYCOPIES PHOTOBOOK FAIR IN PARIS
Saturday, 9th November from 4pm, Concorde Atlantique boat
25-27 OCTOBER – ADVANCE BOOK PREVIEW AT FIEBRE PHOTOBOOK FESTIVAL in Madrid
The Saxons of Transylvania is held in the following collections:
The British Library
The Romanian Cultural Institute