Brief History of the Journal

In 1956, during a time of relative “political thaw”, the communist rulers took a series of measures to partially redress the injustices suffered by the Transylvanian Saxons after 1944. Leading German intellectuals (Bernhard Capesius, Carl Göllner), supported by party functionaries (Ernst Breitenstein, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Neuer Weg) and Romanian intellectuals (Nicolae Lupu) pleaded for the resumption of institutionalised scientific activity by the Germans living in Romania, which had been banned after the war, and for the founding of a research centre subordinate to the Academy of the Romanian People's Republic as well as of a journal in Sibiu. The journal was intended to be the organ of the research centre and was at the same time something unique – the first scientific publication in German language in Romania to appear under the auspices of the Academy. While the research centre was relatively quickly established (October 1956), the authorisation for the publication of the journal was postponed until June 1957. The first issue – supervised by an editorial board consisting of Carl Göllner (editor-in-chief), Harald Krasser and Nicolae Lupu (members) – went to press in 1958 at the Academy Publishing House of the People's Republic of Romania. In the meantime, however, the political situation had deteriorated, which affected the fate of the first issue: it was withdrawn and pulped, so that the first official issue did not appear until 1959. The 32 issues published between 1959 and 1989 under the conditions of Romanian communism reveal concessions to the times. The first years were marked by rigid dogmatism; later, in the years of political détente, the tone changed to some extent and topics were broached that had previously been considered taboo. The summaries of the contributions were written in Russian and it was only from the seventh volume onwards (1964) that they were written in Romanian. During the same period, 1964–1989, two separate issues were published each year, with the exception of volume 25 of 1982, which included both numbers, due to the paper shortage that had begun at that time. From 1983 onwards, the journal was reduced from about 160 to only 100 pages. From the beginning until 1981, the publication of the Forschungen was supervised by Carl Göllner, then by Gerhard Konnerth. Despite the increasing political pressure in the last years of Ceauşescu’s dictatorship, the editorial board under the direction of Gerhard Konnerth tried to maintain the journal's academically demanding level and to make political concessions only when they were unavoidable.

A perusal of the tables of contents from the period 1959–1989 reveals the following thematic areas with various corresponding sub-areas: History, History of Art, History of Music, Ethnography/Ethnology, Dialectology, History of Thought, History of Literature, Sociology, Demography.

In accordance with the priorities of the Research Centre in Sibiu, studies on history came first. Within this research field, a particularly large amount of space was devoted to the history of the Germans living in Romania, with a focus on the history of the Transylvanian Saxons. Closely connected to the history of the German minority was its cultural history (the reception of the philosophical movements of Western Europe, literary history, the development of the visual arts and architecture, the history of music and printing, etc.), as well as the history of the mutual German-Romanian-Hungarian cultural influences.

The continuation of the Transylvanian-Saxon Dictionary was one of the priority projects of the Research Centre in Sibiu; accordingly, dialectological studies as well as contributions on the development of the dictionary were well represented within the pages of the journal. A particular attention was granted to both the literary history of the German minority and its folk culture. It should also be emphasised that the journal published numerous preliminary studies for the subsequent syntheses developed by the Institute's staff.

The freedom gained in December 1989 offered new perspectives to Forschungen as well, regarding the possibility of opening up, the selection of its content and staff. Topics that had been frowned upon during communist times were broached and foreign experts were invited to carry out joint projects. The numerous conferences organised over the years from 1990 onwards in collaboration with foreign (mainly German) institutions made it possible to issue thematic editions that included the contributions presented at these events.

In November 1990, the Institute’s collective elected a new editorial board, with Thomas Nägler as the main editor and Joachim Wittstock as editorial secretary. After the fall of communism, the financial difficulties of the long-lasting transition period hindered the regular publication of two issues per year. Thus, eleven volumes were published between 1990 and 1998, seven of which were double issues (33/1990, 34/1991, 35/1992, 38/1995, 39/1996, 40/1997, 41/1998). After 1998 there were even greater difficulties, so that Forschungen zur Volks- und Landeskunde appeared with long delays (42–43/1999-2000, 44–45/2001-2002, 46–47/2003-2004, 48/2005). In the meantime, the hurdles have been overcome, so that an annual issue of about 200 pages is published.

While the journal had had only two editors-in-chief between 1959 and the revolution, there have been several changes from 1990 to the present. Volumes 33/1990–37/1994 were edited under the supervision of Thomas Nägler, Joachim Wittstock was in charge of the issues 38/1995–41/1998 and since 1999 Zeno-Karl Pinter has held the position of editor-in-chief. Sigrid Pinter was the editorial secretary of the journal between 1995 and 2016. In October 2016, Nora Căpăţână took over this responsibility.



Academia Română
Institutul de Cercetări
Socio-Umane Sibiu

Bulevardul Victoriei nr. 40
550024, Sibiu, România
Tel: 0269-212604
Fax: 0269-216605