Felix Oestreicher
Visual biography

Felix Hermann Oestreicher was born in Carlsbad (now Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic), a spa resort in Bohemia known for its curative waters. He was the eldest of four children of Karl Oestreicher, district physician, and Clara Oestreicher-Kisch. Felix followed in his father’s footsteps and studied medicine. His studies were interrupted by the First World War but he passed his medical exams in 1918, becoming a doctor of internal medicine and setting up his practice in his parents home. During the winter months, when there were few patients in Carlsbad, he did medical research in laboratories in Vienna, Munich, Berlin and Amsterdam. It was in the latter city that he met Gerda Laqueur. They married in Amsterdam at the end of 1930 and settle d in Carlsbad, where their three daughters were born: Beate in 1934, and Maria and Henriette (Helli) in 1936.
By April 1938 the threat of invasion by Nazi Germany led the entire family to flee to Amsterdam. They were captured there, nonetheless. Together with my grandmother, my mother and my two sisters, Felix was taken to the concentration-camps by the Germans in 1943. Since my father had declared I had diptheria, I was separated from them and left in a local hospital in Amsterdam.
Since Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend school in the Netherlands from 1941 on, my father taught us – ‘his triplets’ – at home. And he was forbidden to practice medicine even though he had passed his Dutch medical exams in 1940. In his so-called ‘Drillingsberichte’ (Triplets Report) he described the progress in the lessons and the daily squabbles of his three daughters from week to week. His devotion and dedication was impressive and touching. Beate, the eldest, was apparently the best behaved of the three. We twins were very different and often restless. Thanks to his patience, we learned the necessity of and, more importantly, the pleasure in education. That was an achievement in itself when I consider that in those daily lessons his thoughts must have been filled with worries about the future. He was a considerate and careful man, loving towards his family and relatives.
He was not religious but Jewish tradition and culture was meaningful to him, so that for a while we were instructed in Hebrew. The biblical stories and Greek and Roman myths he related to us were illustrated with reproductions of Renaissance paintings. We also learned about Teutonic mythology.
He taught us to think of others, to share with our sisters and to be obedient and respectful. He had travelled a great deal, particularly in the winter months when his medical practice in Carlsbad was quiet, with the result that he spoke many languages. Unfortunately I can no longer recall what his Dutch was like.
He loved to cycle with my mother, until that was forbidden. Together they survived the hardships and indignities of two concentration camps and a hellish fourteen-day train ride through an entirely devastated Germany. Together they experienced their liberation at the hands of the Russians. When it seemed they had survived everything, they were struck down by typhoid fever. The two girls Beate and Maria returned alone to Holland bringing their father’s concentration-camp diary with them. In this diary he expressed how lost and humiliated he felt and the disloyalty he sometimes had to suffer from his Dutch fellow doctors. There is despair in his words, but remarkably enough, nowhere does he express the fear that he would not survive. His poems in the diary reveal a sensitive yet unsentimental man who observes his surroundings, reflects on the past, the present and what was to come and is concerned about the survivors who must bear the burden of the memory of the horrors of the camps.
My twin sister Maria Goudsblom-Oestreiche, together with Anneliese Nassuth-Broschmann deciphered and edited his camp diary and it published in 2000 as Ein Jüdischer Arzt-Kalender. She contributed an expressive introduction and commentary.

Biography of Felix Oestreicher 1894-1945

1894 born in Carlsbad (now Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic)
1918 graduates in internal medicine
1919-1935 research in laboratories in Vienna, Munich, Berlin and Amsterdam
1930 marries Gerda Laqueur in Amsterdam
1934 birth of daughter Beate
1936 birth of twin daughters Maria and Henriette (Helli)
1938 flees to Amsterdam with mother, wife and children
1940 passes Dutch medical examinations
1943 arrested with his entire family and interned in Westerbork transit camp
1944 transported with his family to Bergen Belsen concentration-camp
1945 liberated in Tröbitz by the Soviet army
1945 dies in Tröbitz on 9 June