'Humans. For sale' — Theater group explores dark chapter of German–Romanian history

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"Humans. For sale" is the rubric of a play by Romanian playwright and theatre manager Carmen Lidia Vidu astir the little-known section successful German–Romanian relations that saw the authorities of West Germany bargain the state of astir 220,000 ethnic German Romanians from Romania's communist authorities betwixt 1969 and 1989.

The German State Theater successful Timisoara (DSTT) brought the play to Germany, staging it successful Berlin and Timisoara's duplicate city, Karlsruhe.

Black-and-white photograph  of a blonde pistillate   (Carmen Lidia Vidu) leaning connected  a horizontal aboveground  and smiling into the cameraRomanian writer and manager Carmen Lidia Vidu has made a sanction for herself successful Romania with documentary plays astir her country's contiguous and caller pastImage: Marian Adochiței

"This woody is unique successful caller European history," manager Carmen Lidia Vidu told DW.

People exchanged for wealth and goods

The taste Germans known arsenic the Transylvanian Saxons and the Banat Swabians came to what is present Romania successful the twelfth and precocious seventeenth centuries respectively.

During the 24 years of Nicolae Ceausescu's rule (1965–1989), galore of these taste Germans wanted to flight the poorness and oppression of the communist dictatorship and determination to West Germany.

The authorities successful Bucharest realized the imaginable progressive and efficaciously sold its German number to West Germany for hard cash. The details of the deals and the grade of this quality commercialized lone came to airy implicit 20 years aft the illness of communism.

Secret negotiations successful Cologne and Bucharest

Working connected behalf of the West German authorities was Christian Democrat lawmaker Heinz Günther Hüsch, who kept each his dealings with the Securitate — Romania's communist-era concealed constabulary unit — cautiously nether wraps.

Black-and-white surface  drawback   from footage of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu during a 1981 tv  addressRomanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was person of communist Romania from 1965 to 1989, erstwhile helium and his woman were executed connected Christmas Day aft a hasty proceedings during the Romanian RevolutionImage: dpa/picture confederation

Bucharest insisted that the woody stay concealed and threatened connected a fig of occasions to interruption disconnected negotiations.

Hüsch, who died successful October 2023, regularly met Securitate officers either successful the Romanian superior oregon successful Cologne to negociate the fig of Romanian Germans who would beryllium allowed to permission Romania each twelvemonth and the sum that Bonn, which was the spot of the West German government, would wage Bucharest.

Germany paid an estimated DM 2 cardinal to resettle taste German Romanians

The size of the outgo for each Romanian German fluctuated implicit clip and was chiefly defined by Bucharest connected the ground of the person's skills and qualifications. Although a definitive sum was ne'er really revealed, it is estimated that West Germany paid Romania astir DM 2 cardinal (about €1 cardinal oregon $1.07 cardinal successful today's money).

This was successful summation to galore loans and goods that the Ceausescu authorities demanded successful return, specified arsenic limousines, aesculapian exertion and evening bugging devices.

Taking vantage of people's misery

But it didn't extremity there: Ethnic Germans who wanted to determination to Germany were forced to wage bribes to Securitate officers to get the papers they needed to permission Romania.

The achromatic  operation    of the fortified religion  successful  the Transylvanian colony   of Cristian, Romania, is seen down  a partition  alongside quadrate  and circular  towers. There are trees successful  the foregroundThe fortified religion successful the Transylvanian colony of Cristian, Romania, was built by German settlers successful the thirteenth period and celebrated its 800th day successful 2023Image: Medana Weident/DW

The wealth had to beryllium successful overseas currency, adjacent though Romanian citizens were strictly forbidden to clasp specified money. As a result, galore had to get from friends and relatives successful Germany. Then determination were those, who promised to either accelerate the process — oregon astatine slightest not to sabotage it — successful speech for hard cash.

Bringing past to beingness connected stage

Director Carmen Lidia Vidu made a sanction for herself successful her autochthonal Romania with documentary plays astir Romania's bloody 1989 overthrow of the communist regime, cities and towns during the Ceausescu dictatorship and the hopes and problems of today's youth. Her productions are multimedia.

"Humans. For sale" is based connected extended probe successful the Securitate archives, interviews with historians and concealed work experts, West Germany's main negotiator Heinz Günther Hüsch and Securitate serviceman Stelian Andronic.

Vidu besides spoke to Romanian Germans who were themselves straight involved. Extracts from these interviews and tv documentaries from the Ceausescu epoch are integrated into the play.

Hüsch's household and immoderate of the taste Germans who came to Germany besides talk of this acheronian section successful German–Romanian relations either successful the signifier of video extracts oregon unrecorded acting.

Five actors connected  a stage. Three of them ticker  arsenic  a cameraman films a pistillate   sitting connected  a suitcase, Berlin, Germany, June 14,  2024Should 1 negociate with dictators? How overmuch is simply a quality beingness worth? Can radical beryllium saved if they are treated similar goods? These are conscionable immoderate of the questions addressed by Carmen Lidia Vidu's play 'Humans. For sale'Image: DW/Medana Weident

The play besides highlights the destiny of radical who either emigrated done ineligible channels oregon fled. For example, 1 quality tells however his begetter suffocated portion trying to fly Romania successful a tank.

The semipermanent interaction of the deals

Should 1 negociate with dictators? How overmuch is simply a quality beingness worth? Can radical beryllium saved if they are treated similar goods? Did the deals struck by Bonn and Bucharest dependable the decease knell for astir 800 years of German civilization successful Romania? How did the Romanian Germans fare successful their caller country? How did their departure impact their taste German neighbors and relatives who stayed successful Transylvania and Banat? These and different questions are addressed successful Vidu's play.

Vidu is successful perfectly nary uncertainty that Hüsch had the champion interests of this taste radical astatine heart. "Heinz Günther Hüsch truly wanted to assistance these people," she told DW. "I was touched by his humanity."

The challenges of performing abroad

"Going connected a overseas circuit is challenging — some for the DSTT and astir apt immoderate different number theatre radical — due to the fact that you lone person a constricted assemblage backmost home," Lucian Varsandan, the ensemble's manager, told DW.

Members of the formed  and unit  of the German State Theater successful  Timisoara beryllium   connected  a stage. On the backdrop down  them are the words 'Humans. For sale' successful  German, Romanian and English. Manager Lucian Varsandan tin  beryllium  seen successful  the center, speaking into a microphoneBoth the play and the treatment highlighted the ongoing symptom experienced by those who mislaid their location and their roots erstwhile they near Romania Image: Corina Fratuțescu

Varsandan said that performing successful Germany was peculiarly peculiar for the group, which was funny to cognize however a German assemblage would respond to the taxable matter.

Great involvement successful post-performance discussion

Many assemblage members successful some Romania and Germany could subordinate to Vidu's play due to the fact that either they oregon their relations hailed from Romania.

The play was a resounding occurrence successful Germany, with request for tickets successful Karlsruhe truthful large that further seats had to beryllium brought in. The show successful Berlin connected June 14 was sold retired contempt the information that it coincided with Germany's opening fixture astatine Euro 2024.

In Berlin — arsenic successful Karlsruhe and Timisoara – determination was large involvement successful the post-performance discussions. Romanian Germans successful the assemblage told their stories, portion radical who had thing to bash with the events astatine the clip had questions and were keen to cognize more.

Both the play and the treatment highlighted the ongoing symptom experienced by those who mislaid their location and their roots erstwhile they near Romania. In Berlin, tv writer Hanni Hüsch, girl of West Germany's main negotiator, shared her memories of her father's engagement and of her lasting involvement successful some the taxable and successful Romania.

 "In a way," said manager Varsandan, "the post-performance treatment was a continuation of the show itself."

This nonfiction was primitively published successful German.

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