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
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
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
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
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,
this year she's coming along on mine!