Thanks to Edwin Wulfsohn , Marlene Katzman and
Merle Wiesenbacher for this piece.
Before the Wiesenbachers left Germany,
Freddy remembers one morning on the way to school seeing the shul on fire (Krystalnacht)The
family left their home for a few weeks. They stayed with non-Jewish
friends one of whom was Oberregierungrat Binder, who took a real chance giving
them shelter. They also took refuge in Adolph's old business after the
new owner gave them the
keys. It was after this that Fred was sent to Zurich. As the whole
wanted to emigrate from Germany visas were needed. Fred's mother
had a cousin in Zurich who was the consul for Costa Rica. He gave them a
dummy visa for Costa Rica which allowed them to get into Switzerland. Meanwhile,
Sammy Weil (Fred's uncle) in Johannesburg tried to get them into South Africa
but couldn't. He eventually got them permission to go to Northern
Fred left Germany in November, 1938 at the age of 12 and stayed with
cousins, Sigburt and Lotte Gut in Zurich and waited for his parents. They
arrived in March, 1939. Fred had his Barmitzvah in April 1939 in the
Loewenstrasse Shul, Zurich with Cantor New. They left Zurich in July and
sailed from Genoa to Durban - a trip that lasted six weeks. Sammy Weil's
wife, Rossel, picked them up in Durban and drove them to Johannesburg. A
few days later they took the train to Lusaka. The first Jew who met them
in Zambia at Livingstone Station (while on their way to Lusaka) was Mr
Furmanovsky (Ronnie Elkaim's father) He was a taxi driver and he told Freddy's
father "You may as well stay here in Livingstone because it is no good
here, but it is also no good in Lusaka." However, they carried on
their journey. When they first arrived in Lusaka they stayed for a short
while at a boarding house for Jewish refugees, which was run by Mr Simonson.
After a few months, they rented a house for 3 pounds a month.
Freddy went to Junior School in Lusaka. When his sister, Trude married
Harry Wulfsohn in Lusaka and the married couple went to live in Livingstone,
the family followed. Adolph Wiesenbacher went to work for Harry Wulfsohn,
managing a small textile business. Freddy completed his Junior School
and then went to Technical High School in Bulawayo and matriculated.
Freddy was refused admission to University in South Africa because he was
regarded as an 'enemy alien' at the time. He returned to Livingstone to
work as a supervisor in Mr Katz's plywood factory. After about a year, he went
to Ndola to start his own timber business, manufacturing parquet flooring and
box sheets. In that small factory he had an accident, cutting off the
fingers of his right hand.
After the accident, it was decided that, now the war was in the past and he
was able to enter South Africa as a student, Fred should enrol for a B.Comm
Degree at Wits University as well as work part-time for his uncle, Sammy Weil,
at a comapny called Weil and Asheim, doing stock control.
After a few years, he went back to Bulawayo, where he had some agencies
selling garments and he joined L Moritz in his indent agency.
In 1952, Freddy met his future wife Inge Simon. They married in 1954 in
Bulawayo. Shortly afterwards they moved to Salisbury. They had four
children: Tony, Susan, Debby and Joanne. The family were members
of the Harare Hebrew Congregation.
In 1961, Freddy's father, Adolph passed away. Freddy became more
actively involved with the Jewish Community. At that time, Freddy's
mother and sister and her family were also living in Salisbury. All the
children attended schools in Rhodesia. Some of them went on to study
locally and others abroad.
After the Indent Agency, Freddy started a shirt factory with Jeff Cohen.
They then distributed fabric. After a few years, Freddy went into his
business, Meadowbrook, which was a C M T business making garments.
Freddy set Tony up with an agency business in Byo in 1976. After a few
years, Freddy and Tony started a fabric business in Bulawayo and Harare (Brook
In 2002, Tony and his wife, Merle, and youngest son, Yaron went to live in
Cape Town where two of their children, Ilan and Talis were already studying.
They started a company called Peace River Trading. A few months later,
Debbie and her husband, Tony Rubin and their children Daniel and Joshua moved
to Cape Town and joined Tony in the business.
Freddy and Inge followed at the beginning of 2004. A short while after,
Inge became ill and sadly passed away.
Freddy's eldest daughter, Susan lives in Pennington, Natal with her husband,
Duncan Anderson. She too works for Peace River Trading looking after the
distribution and warehousing.
The youngest daughter, Joanne lives in Perth with her husband, Alistair
Brunette. They have two sons, Eric and David.