Posted on December 11, 2008 by JamieBee
This is a early picture of Annie & David in South Africa (not related to story below)
———- Forwarded message ———-
Subject: some family history
I received this letter from Amanda, (the Afrikaans pronumciation) our half sister, our mother’s child, whom I have not yet met. I started corresponding with her a few months prior to going to SA but unfortunately did not get to meet her with everything else that was going on at that stage, taking up so much of my energy and time.
She writes, addressing the letter to me:
Our grandmother’s parents came from Russia. The great – grandmother was
still a little girl when they left Russia in the 1800′s. (I heard from a
cousin who unfortunately has passed away, that they were Jews. He said he
did some research, I don’t know if he just wanted to tick the family off.
’cause we had our own in fights amongst the different clans. Aunt Annetjie
never believed it.) They came from Odessa on The Black Sea. They were white
Russians which was very important to Ma. (we called our grandmother – Ma.)
I’m not sure about the surname. I think it is something like Bereshnikov or
Breshnev. (unfortunately aunt Annetjie is dead now, she was corresponding
with a family member in Russia.) I will try and find out from her children
if there are any letters amongst her belongings
Ma told us this story. So you can pass it on to your children and
When they left Russia it was winter and bitterly cold. They were very poor
and some of the children had no shoes. Great – Grandma had rags wrapped
around her feet. Her feet started bleeding as they were walking. The blood
made tracks in the snow. They had to walk all the way to get to where ever
they were going and left their mother country. Later they came to South
Africa and settled in the Eastern Transvaal. In Lydenburg I think.
We have a family tradition that we do every Christmas. We make a snow
pudding with little drops of red food colouring, to resemble bleeding feet
in the snow. Here is the recipe.
750 ml Water
375 ml Sugar
White of three eggs
45 ml Maizena
3 tablespoons of tartaric acid. ( you can use less.)
Boil water and sugar. Make a paste with maizena and pour into sugar water.
Beat egg whites (very stiff
Fold into Maizena and tartaric acid.
Put in fridge to cool
Make little drops with red food colouring onto pudding. It must be two rows
(resembling the bleeding feet)
And there you have the very sad story of a destitute family fleeing the
country of their birth.
Our Grandfather is from Germany (and also according to the cousin, a German
Jew) They left Germany about the same time. They settled in the then Eastern
Transvaal. Mpumulanga today. Also in the Lydenburg area. They had a
goldmine. There are still some graves in the vicinity. Their surname was
Wolfe. Ma’s mother married Karl Wolfe. I’m not sure how many children they
had. I think six.
Ma first married a Nortje and had three children by him. When he died she
married Alexander Janse van Rensburg. Alexander is our grandfather. They had
three daughters. Nettie (our mother)was the middle child. Annetjie the
oldest and Nella the youngest. He died when Nettie was about twelve. They
always spoke very highly of him. He was a very gentle man. Ma was very
temperamentel. I don’t know where his family came from. I will try and dig a
bit further into the history and pass it on to you. This is as much as I
know. When I go to that area again I will take pictures of the graves and
send it to you.
The aunt that you resemble is Nella. But then she looked a lot like Nettie
in certain ways.
I will send you this info so long and then some more the next time. I’ll try
and organise everything a bit better.
Enjoy this so long
Interesting Reading – Perhaps I needn’t have converted to Judaism – Chances
are I was born a Jew. And so were Mark and Shaun and Amy – in some ways it
could change the course of history for us. I will have to do some research.