The Siebenbürgisch-Amerikanisches Volksblatt (“Transylvania-American Peoples Journal”) was established in Cleveland in 1907 to serve the many German-speaking immigrants from Hungary who had settled in the area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Initially known as Die Neue Hiemat (“New Home”), this German-language newspaper changed names twice before becoming the Volksblatt in 1917, and was “devoted to the interests of all German nationalities.” In 1919 it became the official organ of the Central Association of Transylvanian-Saxons in America, and after 1939 it also represented the Central Association and the Singers Association of the Transylvanian-Saxons of America and the Transylvanian-Saxons Juniors Association.
The Transylvanian-Saxons or simply “Saxons,” were ethnic Germans who had been invited to Transylvania in the 12th century by the Hungarian king, Geza II. They called Transylvania “Siebenbürg,” meaning “seven towns,” for their original seven settlements. Having lived in Transylvania for centuries, the Transylvanian-Saxons no longer identified as Germans, though they continued to speak the language. In the mid-19th century, nationalism took root in the region, and the ruling Hungarians began a process of Magyarization, attempting to erase the languages and cultures of all non-Hungarians. At the same time, ethnic Romanians were trying to take over Transylvania to include it in a new Romanian state. These were the conditions that led many Transylvanian-Saxons to immigrate to the United States.
Early editors of the Volksblatt included Moritz Weinberger, Joseph Kundtz, and John Reich, before Georg Schneider took over from 1917 to 1952, followed briefly by Walter Eckstein until 1954. Under Schneider, the paper reached a circulation high of 9,600 in 1930 before falling to 4,954 in 1950. The Volksblatt included news from Northeast Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, and Michigan, as well as national news and international news pertaining to World War II and the post-war world. Local content consisted mainly of event calendars for the social and fraternal clubs the Volksblatt served, church news, and wedding announcements. There were also excerpts from novels and listings of radio programs. An average of one page per issue was published in English. In 1971, the paper became known as the Saxon News Volksblatt, which is still published in Cleveland today by the Alliance of Transylvanian Saxons.
Researched and written by Bronwyn Benson