History of the Romanian Humboldt Community
The history of the Romanian community of Humboldt fellows is a faithful image of the country`s history in this century, with its ups and downs, and has been implacably determined by the more or less durable political circumstances, by the ratio of foreign and domestic forces. Some figures are indeed eloquent in this respect.Still incomplete statistics records about 350 Humboldt fellows from Romania between 1929 and 1999, among whom 65 in 1929-1944 and 285 in the post-war years, more accurately since 1966 up to now. There is a certain lack of pecision as regards the pre-war years and especially the time of the Second World War, when some Humboldt scholars had to put an end to their studies in Germany and then nobody heard of them any longer. However, many representatives of the generation of the 30s-40s finished their studies, including a doctor`s degree, and later tourned into outstanding personalities of Romanian and international academic life. Here mention should be made of the famous philosopher Emil Cioran, archaeologist Ion Nestor, germanists Mihai Isbasescu and Jean Livescu, literary historians Alexandru Dima and Ovidiu Papadima, historian Ion Hurdubetiu, geographer Marin Popescu-Spineni, anthropologist Olga Necrasov a.o.
After the war, during the Stalinist period when the Cold War came to a climax, they had to bear the suspicion and discrimination people who had ever studied abroad and especially in Germany were automatically subject to. Some were temporarily or irrevocably forbidden to follow their academic career, a few even came to know communist repression and prisons. Although the Foundation had resumed its activity on an new basis as early as 1953, it was only in 1966 that the Romanian researchers were again granted access to the Humboldt fellowships. All this because of the isolation and the Stalinist sequelae to be traced in Romania for a longer time. Under a relative and misleading liberalization of the opening years of the Ceausescu regime, the number of scholars who were allowed to go abroad for a Humboldt fellowship visibily increased from 2 in 1966 to 39 in 1970. But the very next year, 1971, when Romania saw the launch of the so-called "small cultural revolution" of Maoist inspiration, this number began to decrease rapidly. Later on, starting 1977, the year when the dictatorial regime worsened again, and to the fall of this regime in December 1989, the number of Humboldt guest researchers from Romania decreased even more and was never higher then 3-4 a year. This is why, if in the first period (1966-1976) Romania had 186 Humboldt fellowships, in the last 13 years of the old regime (1977-1989) this number was drastically cut to only 31 fellowships. The main reason was a deliberate policy of cultural isolation and annihilation of the Romanian intelligentsia - a policy by which the communist dictatorship hoped to remove any opposition and prolong its existence indefinitely. Moreover, the limitation and systematic infringement of human rights as well as the economic, social and moral crisis of the Romanian society before 1989 resulted in a marked emigration of the intellectuals that directly affected the Humboldt community of Romania too.
More then 60 Romanian Humboldt scholars, who during the communist dictatorship had to look for a homeland elsewhere and make a new life for themselves, live at present abroad, especially in Germany and the U.S.A. Despite these difficulties and limitations, the generous and persevering action of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, especially in the past 35 years, was particulary important for the rescue and even the development of science in Romania. In this span of time about 285 scholars had research stays of at least ten months and over one hundred of them were able to extend their activity in the German institutes and universities up to a maximum of two years.
Numerous Romanian Humboldt scholars got grants enabling them to take part in international congresses and colloquia. In many cases the Foundation financed the publication of books written by Romanian Humboldt fellows, for instance M. Popescu-Spineni, I. Ionita, M. Babes, R. Harhoiu, V. Lica a.o. Finally, the Romanian research institutes and universities, where the former Humboldt fellows work, got more than 200 German donations of scientific equipment and books in value of more than DM 3 million. The fall of communism in 1989 has provided new opportunities for the free development of science in Romania. The 7th of July 1990, the Humboldt Club of Romania (Clubul Humboldt din Romania) was founded - the first one in a former communist country. As it was expected, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation immediately expressed its readiness to act in order to recover the time wasted and the opportunities missed by the Romanian scholars in the last decades. A first sign was the visit paid to Romania from 30 Oct to 3 Nov 1990 by the delegation of the Foundation headed by General Secretary Dr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, which met in Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca with Humboldt fellows from all over the country. The second general meeting of the Romanian Humboldt fellows with top representatives of the Foundation led by the new General Secretary Dr. Manfred Osten took place from 12 to 14 Sept 1997 in Brasov (Kronstad). In between, in Sept 1994 Dr. H. Pfeiffer and his deputy Dr. D. Papenfuß visited Romania for the jubilee of the Bucharest University. In Oct 1995 Dr. Papenfuß, together with Dr. W. Benz, General Secretary of the German Science Council (Wissenschaftsrat), and Dr. J. Möller, General Secretary of the Volkswagen Foundation, attended in Sinaia the conference "Academy and/or University?", jointly organized by the Humboldt Club of Romania and the European Cultural Foundation Bucharest. The papers presented at that conference by scientists from Romania, Germany, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Spain have been published by M. Lupu and S. Stanescu (editors), Akademie und/oder Universität? Stand und Perspektiven der Grundlagenforschung in den Ländern Mittel- und Osteuropas nach der Wende, Editura Enciclopedica, Bucharest, 1997. The issue of this book was the occasion for a new symposium (Bucharest, May 1997) on problems related to the fundamental research in Romania, with the participation of professor Dagmar Schipanski, president of the German Science Council. At the same publishing house the Humboldt Club of Romania has earlier (1994) printed a booklet entitled Romanian Fellows of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, including curricula vitae and lists of publications of almost 120 Romanian scholars. For a more detailed knowledge of the activities of the club since its foundation one should also consult the three issues of Mitteilungen des Humboldt-Clubs Rumänien: 1 / 1990, 2/1996 and 3/1998.