Marianne and Helmut Reuning

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Helmut Reuning was born 19 May 1914 in Swakopmund, Namibia – then German South West Africa – where his father, Dr Ernst Reuning was a geologist involved in the discovery of diamonds in Namibia.

Helmut did his schooling in Germany and attended psychology courses at various universities - such as Göttingen, Giessen, Tübingen, Munich and Frankfurt.

Marianne Reuning (née Mauch) was born 4 January 1921 in Germany. She grew up in Ulm where her parents owned a piano shop and she became a very accomplished pianist.

Helmut and Marianne met in Tübingen where Helmut was continuing his studies and Marianne had moved to study Radiography.

From 1933 - 1945 Helmut's studies were interrupted by military service and then by the Second World War. Helmut was on the Russian Front during the war. After the capitulation Helmut and 3 comrades managed to survive by hiding during the day and marching through the night. It took 6 weeks to successfully complete the long journey home.

On 16 June 1945 Helmut reached the village of Nellingen where Marianne and the 2 children had been sent after the family house was bombed in Ulm.
Sadly Helmut's 2 brothers did not survive the war.

Helmut was able to continue his studies at the partially rebuilt Psychology Institute of the University in Frankfurt - where he began to work on his doctorate and as a research assistant at the Institute.
At the beginning of September 1949 Helmut's doctoral work was handed in and accepted.

In October 1949 Helmut and Marianne and their 3 children were able to leave war ravaged Germany with the help of Helmut's father who was living in South Africa.

In 1951 Helmut applied for a post at the NIPR - National Institute for Personnel Research - part of the CSIR. He began working there in February 1952 under Dr Simon Biesheuvel. He remained at the NIPR until his retirement end of January 1980.

At the NIPR Helmut headed up the Applied Experimental Division - which among other work also became involved in aptitude testing for the mines. Cross Cultural Studies were among the fields that were being researched at the time.

In 1958 a "Kalahari Research Committee" was formed jointly by the Witwatersrand University and the Institute for the Study of Man in Africa. Research projects were planned to study the Bushmen. The team included Prof Philip Tobias and other medical and dental staff. Helmut grasped the opportunity to include psychological research as well.

Helmut had been interested in Bushmen since his early childhood in Swakopmund when his father brought back stories and artifacts from his fieldwork as a geologist in Namibia. His father had encountered Bushmen in southern Namibia - near Luderitz and Aus - from where they had long since disappeared.

Helmut's interest had been widened to include Rock Art during his studies in Ethnolgy at the Frobenius Institute in Frankfurt.

Marianne joined the Kalahari expeditions and with her lifelong passion for photography she was able to contribute immensely to the material gathered. Her interest developed further to include 16mm filming. In the years that followed she spent many hours editing her film material. Marianne also joined Helmut in his many lectures - synchronizing the slides and music.

The research expeditions were mainly in the western part of the Central Kalahari Reserve and also near Motokwe. At that time the Marshalls were researching in the northeast of Namibia and Lee in the northwest of Botswana.

The initial testing program had to be compiled at short notice but was added to and modified with much further reading and studying of other works in progress as well as with experience and observation.

In total 5 expeditions were undertaken between 1958 to 1966 and a total of 36 different tests were selected, designed or modified.

Due to political and social changes the fieldwork came to an end in 1966.

The program of experiments and tests remained incomplete.

Helmut concluded that -as is often the case with scientific work - the research raised more questions than it answered and he regretted that the Bushmen ecology has since been all but destroyed. So the questions will remain unanswered.

Over the subsequent years Helmut and Marianne's interest in Bushmen and Rock Art led to many trips to Rock Art sites around South Africa - initially the Drakensberg and its many rock art sites.

After Helmut's retirement this interest and passion continued and was directed towards the Brandberg in Namibia. Helmut and Marianne undertook many expeditions into various parts of this vast region. They photographed and filmed the Rock Art and the superb geology of the area. (The photographic equipment in those days was bulky and heavy - especially Marianne's 16mm Bolex film camera).

In the Brandberg they also met up with Harald Pager who was at that time involved in his many years of outstanding work tracing the multitude of rock art of the Brandberg. Many of the expeditions were led by a Namibian rock art enthusiast Jo Walter.

Matt Gunther - another Kalahari Bushman researcher from Canada - also joined a few of the trips. Students from Windhoek University made up the numbers helping a great deal with the carrying of equipment and supplies.

Helmut did his last climb up the Brandberg at the age of 79 in 1993.

He has now reached the age of 94 and Marianne is 87 years old.

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