REUNITING OF FAMILY AFTER 80 YEARS OF SEPARATION CAUSED BY HOLOCAUST
This is a story of a family reuniting 80 years after a catastrophic event which tore them apart and is a lesson in persistence and never giving up on something until you secure hard evidence which would cause you to do so.
The story begins in about 1830 when my 2nd great grandfather, Elias Nathan Wiener of Hamburg, sired several children amongst whom were 2 sons named Moses Elias and Nathan Levy Wiener. Moses Elias Wiener was my father’s grandfather and Nathan Levy Wiener was the grandfather of Edmund Louis Wiener. The families enjoyed a very close and intimate relationship to the point where they even gave their offspring similar names. My grandfather, Edmund Elias, relocated to Lübeck which is some 40 miles north of Hamburg but the family relationship remained close. Both the aforesaid cousins each named 2 of their children Kurt and Hilda.
In 1933 because of their persecution by the Nazis the Jews started to leave Germany. My father and his parents managed to flee to South Africa but many remained and were murdered in the camps. After the war my father made some enquiries as to any possible close family survivors in Germany but there were none. He subsequently assumed that the whole of the Wiener family, excepting for his sisters who had emigrated to Argentina, had been exterminated. Remember that this was in the 1950s when communications were poor and world Jewry was still tring to recover from the catastrophy. My father drew a line between his life in Germany and that in South Africa – that was his survival mechanism. He refused to ever visit Germany, speak German or even purchase a German manufactured product.
In my 40 years of tracing my roots I never found any close relatives from the Wiener family. I accepted that they were all murdered in the Shoah. Imagine my surprise when my friend Paul Cheifitz, a gaeneologist of note, informed me last week that he had found evidence that a Wiener family, who appeared to be connected to ours, had landed illegally in Palestine just as the war begun. We immediately started investigating this and to my amazement I realised that it was the family I described earlier. For sure my father’s cousin could no longer be alive but what about their children and grandchildren? A search in the Tel Aviv Cemetery database confirmed this and also that all their children had passed on as well. Kurt and his brother never married but their sister Hilda had married a Peter Cohn. Through our connections we quickly found that Peter’s widow Yehudit and their 3 sons were living in Raanana. Within a day we had the phone number on one of the sons, Oded, and we arranged a meeting with the families.
Charlotte and I went to meet with Yehudit, her sons and daughters-in-law yesterday at her apartment in Raanana. It was very emotional for all of us as all of us were convined until now that we had no surviving family. Of course we compared information and shared our stories. All the wives and Charlotte were comparing our family features and had no doubts that we are from the same family. The chemistry between us all was quite astonishing and I am quite sure that we will maintain contact in the future. Oded, the youngest son, is ordering his DNA testing kit which results I am positive will remove any possibly remote doubt about our common ancestry.
So after a separation of some 80 years our family has reunited and the 200 year old heritage of our Most Recent Common Ancestor, Elias Nathan Wiener (1786-1866), shall hopefully continue with our future generations.