Johann Schaas, the last Saxon of Richiş

By April 20, 2015About Richiș

There are next to us thesaurus people, who enrich us with their stories. Simple, jovial, hospitable people who share a story of old times and let us discover its mysteries in calm, while they return to the rhythm of their life, with its daily leisure and difficulties. They have gentle eyes, harsh hands by labour, patience and remiss muttering for anyone listening to them. They are too valuable for televisions or awards, because their wisdom is priceless.

Herr Johann Schaas is the last remaining Saxon and the soul of Richiş/Reichesdorf, of Sibiu County. Fortunately, by searching on the Internet, you will find many references to this extraordinary man. Johann Schaas is a great teller, conquering from his first muttering, sitting down on the steps of the church of Richiş. He is 80 and together with his wife, Johanna, they are the only Saxons having remained in the village. His living look, full of serenity and wisdom, his luminous face show that youth is not a matter of age. Due to his charm, for many curious people arriving here, Richiş is a synonym for the name of Johann Schaas. Herr Schaas does not chaffer empty and speedy texts, which are particular to tourism guides, but he tells freely, patiently, according to the ones listening to him, using his knowledge, his charming humour and his vast experience. It is a pleasure to listen to him, as a grandfather.
Richiş belongs today to Biertan commune, about which Johann Schaas knows the stories and good order also. The fortified church of Richiş was built during the second half of the 14th century, as a Cistercian monastery, passing from Catholicism to Evangelism, and fortified later, in the 16th century. The entrance in the enclosure is made through the bell tower, where it is told that at one time in the past there was also a clock, and in the church one may enter under the portal on which it is sculpted the scene of crucifixion, resumed on the chancel.
Inside the early Gothic style church, there can be observed by plenty of sculpted figures, the “little demons” of Johann Schaas, enhancing the mystery of the place. At the intersection of the arcades on the ceiling, as well as at the ends of the supporting pillars, there are all sort of strange faces, contortioned somehow by the burden of supporting for centuries the old edifice. ” Grünen Mann “, a mysterious mythological character, about whom Johann Schaas has a very interesting theory (see the videos), watches the organ built in 1788 by Johann Prause.

As the name says, Reichesdorf was in the past a rich place, due to the famous and best wine, sent in railcars to Bucharest, “to calm down the resurrected (communist) spirits”, but also to Budapest and “drunk in secret to Constantinople”. A village of industrious and very prideful villagers, where, as Herr Schaas says, people were proud of telling they were villagers.

All over the time, he saw the places where he was born being crossed by soldiers and tanks, sliced by machine gun shootings, he saw his Saxons leaving first to war, then deported, then little by little in Germany, until 1990 when in a wave they were gone almost entirely, including his children. He was not gone for always, he was only in visit. He was already old, ill, but he loved working the soil, which he could not do in Germany. It is nice in Germany, but it is not for him. Here is the house where he was born, educated, that the Communists stole, bulking his family in a small summer kitchen behind the house, which was later receded back to him.


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