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Dennis Wiener was born in 1947 and grew up in Pietersburg, South Africa. The son of a German Jewish refugee and mother of Lithuanian roots, he is a qualified Industrial Engineer. For several decades he managed the family’s engineering business in what is now Polokwane, Limpopo. He simultaneously established a property investment company and pioneered a personal computer business in the early 1980s. After retiring, he and his wife Charlotte made Aliya in 2003 and now live in Netanya. He has three children and five grandchildren.
Dennis has been researching his family roots in Germany for almost 40 years. During that time he has made numerous visits to that country, retracing the steps of his ancestors and locating their final resting places. He broke through the proverbial genealogical “brick wall” in 2015 as a result of DNA analysis. Establishing a close genetic match with a man living in Long Island (NY) enabled him to prove a paternal lineage going back to 1400 to Oettingen in Bavaria. He traced his ancestor’s migration from Bavaria to Vienna, Berlin, Hamburg and Lubeck. Being of a prominent Levite and rabbinical family of which meticulous records were kept enabled Dennis to prove his direct descendency from several illustrious Rabbonim amongst them the MaHaRaL of Prague and Yitzchak Luria, better known as HaARi, the founder of contemporary Kabbalism. In fact, in accordance with legends and the Old Testament, the lineage can be followed back some 120 generations to the House of King David and beyond.
Many members of the other branches of Dennis’s family, especially from Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Pomerania and Lower Saxony, were movers and shakers in their communities. Of the relatively few descendants who managed to escape the Holocaust, some went on to accomplish great achievements and contributed to their new societies in all corners of the world. Amongst them were a world renowned nuclear radiologist, a 3M patent holder, an Israeli Air Force helicopter killed in the Yom Kippur War in Sinai and even a Soviet assassin who masterminded Trotsky’s demise in Mexico. In this book, Dennis also examines the lives of his father and grandparents after the advent of Nazism, how they managed to flee Germany and re-establishing themselves in South Africa.
Dennis embarked on this project mainly so that he could leave a legacy to his children and their descendants of where they came from. Quoting his 6th great aunt, the definitive and famous German Jewish diarist of the 17th century, Glückel of Hamelin, he wanted to be sure that his children knew “from what sort of people you have sprung, lest today or tomorrow your beloved children and grandchildren come and know naught of their family”.
This book demonstrates how determination and conventional genealogy combined with modern day technology can achieve results beyond the wildest of expectations.