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    STUDIA HISTORIA - Issue no. 2 / 2005  

  Abstract:  The Transylvanian Carpathian Association (1880-1944). A Contribution to the Social History of Transylvania. In the context of the intensification, in the second half of the nineteenth century, of the phenomenon of associative organisations, as an important factor in the process of development and modernisation of society, Michael Wedekind approaches in this article the particular role played by the Transylvanian Carpathian Association (Sibenburgischer Karpatenverein SKV) founded at Sibiu in 1880, by the Transylvanian Saxon bourgeoisie, both in the development of a touristic movement in this part of the Carpathians, but also in the process of political and social, economic modernisation of the German population of the country. The author comes up with a radiography of the association, both from the point of view of the numerical evolution of its members, noting a regression in the inter-war period, due to the social and economical crises and the competition of other associations, continuing with the analysis of the social profile, which reveals the predominance of members from the middle class, as well as the presence of personalities from the political, ecclesiastical, scholarly milieu, the latter comprising a substantial number of Romanian scholars. The contribution of the Association not only to the discovery and the exploration of previously unknown areas of the Carpathians by the Saxon urban bourgeoisie of Transylvania, but also to placing value on their touristic potential and their integration in the touristic circuits of the country, thus becoming an important factor of modernisation is highlighted. One of the instruments of the SKV in this endeavour has been the editing, from the very first year of its existence, of a periodical Jahrbuch des Siebenburgischen Karpatenvereins, which has made itself known through the publication of touristic trails meant to attract foreign tourists, through the partly scientific, partly popularising works which have served to spread knowledge about Transylvania, while through the editing of materials concerning natural history, ethnography and referring to national holidays it has taken over the function of constructing the self-awareness of the group, including the community of readers in the dynamic of affective organisation of the group and in the process of collective awareness and integration. The entry into the new century reveals in the pages of the SKV the national emphasis of the Association, underlining permanently the tight connections and cooperation as well as the ‘sentiment of spiritual communion’ with the German and Austrian Alpine Association as an emanation of the entire nation. These attitudes, not manifested until then, as a following of the prerequisites of the statutes of the apolitical associations which requested of their members to distance themselves from any political activity, will diminish after the First World War when the authors of the Karpatenvereins- Jahrbuch have separated themselves from the German ideology of the community, showing pacifist tendencies, which were not ethnically focused strictly on their own group, even if a certain amount of emphasis on cultural superiority was present. The 1930s have brought tensions within the German ethnic group, which would have impact on the development of the SKV. These tensions, provoked by the disputations between conservatives and national-socialist ‘innovators’ would end only with the intervention of the Reich and the integration in 1939 of the German ethnic group in the only legal party in Romania at the time, Frontul Renasterii NaŃionale (The National Renaissance Front). As a consequence of the external politics of Charles II, through massive support from Berlin, the German ethnic group has received the status of juridical person and has developed as a true state within the state. The existing atmosphere, at the level of the leadership of the SKV and in its branches, has been influenced in all these years by the disputes between the conservatives and the national-socialists, which dominated in terms of number within the association, which has succeeded, despite some of the sympathies and affinities in not becoming a means of dissemination of the national-socialist ideology. The end of the third decade of the twentieth century will find the SKV, like the entire German society from Romania impregnated by national-socialist ideology, a fact which would make its presence felt in both the changes of personnel (at central and local level) and in the orientation of the usual activities of the association. However, the end of the First World War and the beginning of the communist leadership would bring, at the same time as that social dissolution (which the authors talks about at the beginning of his research) the end of the SKV, which through the confiscation by the Romanian state of its holdings has been de facto dissolved. In the end, the author underlines the activity of more than 60 years of the SKV, an expression, at the same time of the social and political development and of the cultural development of the Germans of Romania, which has not restricted itself to the research, embellishment and touristic opening, innovative and guiding of the Carpathians but has focused, in the context of overemphasised national attitude (which was permanently present until the national-socialist homogenising) and to the crypto-political internal mobilisation of the German minority from the multiethnic south-eastern Europe.  
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