Vasile Docea

Biserica lui Ioan Salvici: un episod din istoria relatiilor romano-germane / The Church of Ioan Slavici: An Episode Regarding the History of Romanian-German Relations

Jan. 1, 2013

Ioan Slavici
memeorie colectivă
Primul Război Mondial
collective memory
First World War



e image of the writer Ioan Slavici (1848 – 1925) fluctuated over time in the collective memory. Although he was constantly accepted among canonical writers from the Romanian’s literature classic period, there were some disagreements in the assessment of his journalistic activity, because of his collaboration with the pro-German newspaper Ziua, between 1914 and 1916, and other pro-German newspapers and journals from Bucharest, city which was occupied by the Central Powers in the years 1916 – 1918. e pro-entente current of opinion, which became dominant and was supported by the state’s official policy once Romania entered in the First World War, after a confrontation from relatively equal positions with the pro-Germanic current of opinion, contributed to the marginalization of the journalist Slavici after the war ended. Reactions against this marginalization, and attempts of rehabilitation started right after the writer’s death. Here, we present one of those first attempts, which remained unknown until today: the project from 1930 – 1931 of the construction of a church in the memory of Ioan Slavici, in Panciu, the place where the writer died and was buried. e project was initiated by a large number of students from Bucharest and strongly supported by a collaborator of Slavici at the newspaper Ziua. In this project were involved, among others, many Germans from Romania, a former German wartime spy, and to some extent even former Catholic Archbishop of Bucharest, Raymund Netzhammer. Although the project was not implemented, it is an excellent example for the fragmented, inconsistent, and even conflicting way the collective memory functions. e Church of Slavici polarized different meanings even during its design because there were two interpretations of it, in fact, two different ways of valuing the memory of Ioan Slavici. e first meaning involved the germanophiles, the ones that thought and acted the same as Slavici during the First World War. ey desired a memorial church for Slavici, to celebrate and consecrate their way of thinking. For them – and among them we recall Teodor Câmpianu, former collaborator of the writer to the newspaper Ziua – the church would have been a monument of pro-germanism. e second way of perceiving the church of Slavici is related to the writers’ admirers. e students initiating this project wanted to celebrate the value of Slavici’s literature, and additionally to do justice to the writer, after the public marginalization he suffered in the last years of his life. is justice was mainly based on recognising the value of literature. For this purpose, part of the architectural complex was supposed to be arranged as a library as shown in the sketch designed after the plans of the anonymous architect. e library probably would have been equipped with the entire collection of Ioan Slavici writings. From this perspective, the church was perceived as a monument dedicated to the writer Slavici.