Before her father went into the army during World War II, Oma lived in two different towns: Traunau and Wisenheid, where he was the school teacher. Both towns have Romanian names now, not the Donauschwaben names that they had when Oma was a child. In fact, the Romanians don’t even know the old names.
The first of the two towns that we visited was Traunau, and all we found there was the church and the schoolhouse, whose windows I matched with a picture I had showing broken windows and broken bricks surrounding the schoolhouse. The living quarters had been broken off and destroyed. It was not a place to spend much time.
In Wisenheid, Oma started talking to a young Romanian woman, who had learned English from television, movies, and games. She cleaned the school, and let us inside. This year, the school only has two classrooms and next year it will have one. There aren’t enough children to fill the school. The actual school rooms did not have many learning tools in them and they did not seem to have enough materials.
The woman lamented that there aren’t opportunities for young people in Wisenheid, as she could not go to college and did not have job opportunities in the village. It seems to me that Romania is a country devoid of many opportunities both for young people and older people. Young people are leaving for economic opportunity in other countries.
After the Iron Curtain lifted in 1989, it seems that there have been many improvements, but at this point, it seems like they have reached a plateau. In the area, there are a lot of commercial farms owned by Italians, Germans and other European countries. The Romanian people themselves seem to be left behind– with small farms and herders tending their sheep and cattle.