Mark Heckman

My name is Mark Heckman. I live in Davis, California, where I am a computer scientist. I formerly lectured at the University of California, Davis, but now work in private industry doing research in the area of  computer security.

My grandmother, Bertha Dondey (nee Wekser) and her family lived in Horodenka, Zastavna, and other towns in the area of Czernowitz (they moved around a lot -- every child was born in a different town).  While she and most of her siblings emigrated to the United States before  WWI, her older brother David and his family were doing well financially and they stayed in Czernowitz.

David's daughter Dora was a classmate of Hedwig Brenner and later married Rudy Bruckenthal, whose family owned a bakery in Czernowitz, I believe. The family managed to hide in Czernowitz during WWII and avoid Transnistria, but Dora's brother, my cousin Alois (Louis) Wekser, was kidnapped into the army as a young teenager by the Soviets. He survived the war, however, and rejoined his family in Czernowitz in 1945 or 1946. After the war they all managed to get across the border to Rumania and eventually, after several years in the Dominican Republic, made their way to the United States.

Louis and Dora live today near San Francisco and, although they cannot come with me to Czernowitz, they've given me some ideas about things to see.

I speak some German, some French, a few Yiddish swear words, and even some Mandarin Chinese (which I don't expect to have much use for on this trip, but you never know).

I will be accompanied by my girlfriend, Kathy Loretz. Last year we did a genealogy trip to her ancestral homeland in Uri Canton, Switzerland, so this year she's coming along on mine!