Siegmund Elsa Max Marianne, Hungary Romania, Transylvania Szekelyudvarhely, Refugees Austria, Emigration America Oklahoma, Prisoners of War Estonia, Second World War


In 1987, Marianne Siegmund interviewed her parents (Elsa and Max Siegmund) about their lives, which included her own life experiences as well. The family members are of Transylvanian Saxon origins, coming from a minority German-speaking group that has lived in Transylvania (within Hungary and Romania) since the early Middle Ages. This family saga extends in time from World War One through the 1950s and beyond. (The interviews do not necessarily follow chronologically, however.) The family history begins in Székelyudvarhely, a town in Transylvania that has been divided and redivided between Hungary and Romania a number of times. Because of both World Wars, there are tales of the family’s refugee status (twice), of Marianne's father's conscription in the Hungarian Army with an eventual prison camp stay in Estonia for more than three years while Marianne's mother escaped ahead of the advancing Russian troops and fled with her infant daughter toward the West. Then follow tales of the months-long odyssey before reaching a refugee camp in Austria, life-threatening illnesses, bombs, community support, reunion of the family members, life in Austria after the war, and eventual emigration to America. The family started over after having lost everything, including a home and business in Transylvania. The transcriptions come from cassette tapes of 1987 interviews that were digitized to streaming format. Marianne and her husband, Richard Hacken, transcribed the interviews from mostly German originals and then translated them into English. Sound files, transcriptions and translations are available.

Document Type


Publication Date



English, German


Harold B. Lee Library

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

Siegmund-English.pdf (2028 kB)
Translations of 1987 Interviews

Siegmund-Transcriptions.pdf (2673 kB)
Transcriptions of 1987 Interviews

1987.6.6.ElsaMax.mp3 (108198 kB)
Streaming Audio June 6, 1987

1987.6.20.Elsa.mp3 (53936 kB)
Streaming Audio June 20, 1987 - Pt. 1

1987.6.20bElsa.mp3 (53341 kB)
Streaming Audio June 20, 1987 - Pt. 2

1987.10.17.Elsa.mp3 (43319 kB)
Streaming Audio October 17, 1987

1987.10.18.Max.mp3 (6892 kB)
Streaming Audio October 18, 1987

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