We can talk of a Saxon community in Bucharest as early as the first half of the 18th century.   Most of them were of Lutheran faith. In 1730 they had a pastor, whereas in 1749, recorded sources refer to a community which followed the precepts of the so-called Augsburg creed. In 1751, the Phanariote ruler awarded to the Saxons in Bucharest the right to have their own church, whereas the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarka (1774) imposed to the Romanian Principalities, including Wallachia (where Bucharest was located), the obligation of allowing religious freedom to all the Christians in the area, associated with political backing for the construction of churches. 

In 1778, the records mention that the Lutherans in Bucharest had a church with a bell tower and a clock. In the second had of the 19th century, more exactly in the years 1851-1853, a monumental church of historicist influence designed in a romantic style by the architect A. Mohnbach was built. The building still serves as the main church of the Lutheran community in Bucharest, which amounts nowadays to only 970 people. 

Before 1821, most members of the Lutheran community in Bucharest were Saxons of Transylvania who came to Wallachia as craftsmen such as silversmiths and watchmakers or pharmacists. Once with the arrival of the king Carol I, a Hohenzollern, many Germans came to Bucharest to find a better life.

  In the second half of the 19th century, statistics show that, out of a total of 177. 302 inhabitants, Bucharest had as many as 30. 000 Saxon/German immigrants (reportedly in 1866). Most of them lived in the urban areas, including Bucharest, and they were skilled in some crafts, as mentioned, but they also dealt with trade. In fact, one of the oldest Bucharest street to-day is called Lipscani, a direct hint to Leipzig, the German city where most of the products traded in the shops on this street were coming from. In Bucharest city centre, many shops, cafes, many banks were run by Saxons/Germans.

Some prominent figures of the Saxon/German community of the second half of the 19th century are interred in the Evangelical-Lutheran cemetery in Bucharest. This is located in the south-eastern part of the city and it represents an interesting blend of new and old, as people are noways still interred here. As one enters the cemetery, on the right side, along the cemetery wall, there are late 18th, but mostly 19th century graves. Sadly, some are in a derelict state but one can still see the original beauty and distinction of the monuments. Some of the graves were designed by the sculptor Carol Storck (1854-1926), himself of German origin. His father, Karl Storck was born in 1826 in Hesse Nassau district and came in 1849 to Bucharest. He was the first professor of sculpture at the Art Academy, and considered the establisher of the academic art education. He is also interred in the described cemetery.

Some of the most distinguished names that one can read on the funerary plates are: Traugott Witting who was born in Brașov in 1837 and graduated University of Vienna in 1859. He was one of the first professional pharmacists in Bucharest and the establisher of modern pharmacy in this part of the country, in his quality as founder of the Romanian Pharmacists’ Society. At the beginning of the 20th century, he was the president of the Lutheran community in Bucharest.  Erhard Luther, born in 1841 in Kainsbach, Bavaria, was the owner of the first important beer factory in Bucharest (in 1884 he obtained the Romanian citizenship); his wife, Sophie, born Kaltmeyer, in Bucharest, in 1851, is also interred in the Lutheran cemetery. Members of the famous Friedrich M.J.Bossel family are interred here as well; Friedrich M.J. Bossel was one of the richest and most known businessman and real estate owner in the Bucharest of mid 19th century. The first entertainment venue in Bucharest bore his name. 

 

The photo material belongs to Rod JACOBS. 

Rod JACOBS ©

SOURCES 

Filip Florian, Zilele Regelui (The Days of the King), Polirom, 2008. 

Tudor Dinu, Bucureștiul fanariot (The Phanariote Bucharest), Humanitas, 2015, vol. I pp. 269-271.

Dan Roșca, La Ochiul lui Dumnezeu. Farmacii și farmaciști din vechiul București (At the God’s Eye. Pharmacies and Pharmacists in the Old Bucharest, Ars Docendi, 2017,  pp. 108, 109.

Dan Berindei, Societatea românească în vremea lui Carol I (1866-1876) (The Romanian Society During the Reign of Carol I (1866-1876)), Elion, 2002, pp. 76, 81-84.

Further reading:

https://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Storck

https://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Storck

https://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erhard_Luther

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transylvanian_Saxons

https://www.historia.ro/sectiune/general/articol/craciunul-in-bucurestii-de-odinioara

https://www.wikiwand.com/ro/Biserica_luterană_din_București

https://www.wikiwand.com/ro/Biserica_Evanghelică_de_Confesiune_Augustană_din_România#/google_vignette

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