On May 17, the Ambassador of Romania in the Federal Republic of Germany, Adriana Stănescu, invited to an event with the theme “Future perspectives for the Transylvanian landscape of fortified churches” at the Embassy in Berlin. The hosting of the evening took place in cooperation with the Fortified Churches Foundation, and the Kulturwerk der Siebenbürger Sachsen, the Transylvanian Saxon Culture Institute, acted as co-sponsor.
Numerous guests from Germany as well as from Romania accepted the invitation. In addition to an interested audience, among them were members of the German Bundestag, such as the managing director of the Group of Expellees, Repatriates and German Minorities, Sven Oole, and representatives of cultural institutions, such as the Romanian Cultural Institute, with its director Cristian Niculescu. Also present were representatives from science and research, such as Dr. Ralf Buchholz from the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen, and Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Jürgen van Buer. Non-governmental organizations such as the “European Heritage Volunteers” with its director Bert Ludwig were also part of the evening. On behalf of the Evangelical Church A.C. in Romania, Bishop Reinhart Guib arrived together with Secretary General Friedrich Gunesch. The Association of Transylvanian Saxons in Germany was represented by the Federal Chairman Rainer Lehni, the Chairwoman of the Regional Association Berlin/New Federal States, Gizela Wentrup, the Chairman of the Regional Association Bavaria, Werner Kloos, as well as with numerous members. On behalf of the Kulturwerk der Siebenbürger Sachsen, director Dr. Iris Oberth was at the event. On behalf of the Fortified Churches Foundation, managing director Philipp Harfmann welcomed the guests.
In her welcoming speech Adriana Stănescu expressed her joy that the joint event of the Embassy and the Foundation can now take place again after a two-year break and this again in a circle of such expert speakers as well as numerous interested guests and with virtuoso musical accompaniment by the pianist Daria Tutor and the cellist Constantin Borodin.
As co-host Philipp Harfmann then welcomed the attendees and thanked Mrs. Stănescu warmly for continuing the good tradition of this important discussion forum on the cultural heritage of fortified churches in the Embassy of Romania. On behalf of the Foundation, he also expressed great gratitude to the Kulturwerk der Siebenbürger Sachsen for the partial sponsorship of the event and also for the good cooperation in various other projects already successfully completed in the past year. He was proud that the Fortified Churches Foundation could call itself a partner of the Kulturwerk from the very beginning.
After those present had listened with enjoyment to the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 26, the moderator of the evening, journalist Robert Schwartz, took the floor and first handed it over to Iris Oberth for a greeting. The director of the Kulturwerk emphasized what a pleasure and above all an honor it was for her personally, but above all also as a representative of a still quite young cultural institute, to speak in this setting. She also thanked the Fortified Churches Foundation for the always pleasant and successful cooperation. For the Kulturwerk, it is a privilege and a truly lasting pleasure to support the work of the Fortified Churches Foundation according to the possibilities available to it.
The second greeting was given by Bishop Reinhart Guib. With an introductory play on words about the church, which unfortunately is “rich in stone” only in the very literal sense, he expressed his joy about what has already been achieved, but especially also his hope that this evening and the many other efforts to preserve and save the fortified churches may bear good fruit.
Following the “Rondo a capriccio” by Radu Paladi, Dr. Ştefan Bâlici, architect and lecturer, gave a keynote speech on the situation of the fortified churches, in which he called for a diversification of financing approaches.
After Schubert’s Sonata in A minor, again with Daria Tudor at the piano, the panel discussion on future perspectives for Transylvanian fortified churches began. Panel guests were Prof. Dr. Bernd Fabritius, Honorary President of the Association of Transylvanian Saxons in Germany and President of the Federation of Expellees, Ilse Welther, Chairwoman of the Association of Transylvanian Saxon Heritage Communities, and Friedrich Gunesch as Chairman of the Board of the Fortified Churches Foundation.
In the lively exchange, Bernd Fabritius emphasized the duty of care of both the Romanian and the German state in the preservation of the cultural heritage of fortified churches, while Ilse Welther and Friedrich Gunesch highlighted the successful commitment of the hometown communities and other initiatives in the joint effort.
The program concluded with the piece “Altes Lied” by Paul Constantinescu, beautifully performed by piano and cello. At the reception that followed, the guests had ample opportunity for constructive exchange and personal conversations while enjoying selected delicacies.
We would like to thank the Embassy of Romania and Her Excellency Adriana Stănescu as well as the Fortified Churches Foundation for an extremely successful and inspiring evening.
Text: Dr. Iris Oberth
Photos: Ines Wilke-Huber
Photogallery of the event: