Maria Goudsblom-Oestreicher
Visual biography

Maria Ida Ernestine and her twin sister Henriette (Helli) were born to Felix Oestreicher and Gerda Oestreicher-Laqueur at the end of February 1936 in Carlsbad (now Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic). Their elder sister Beate was born almost eighteen months earlier.
In 1938, fearing invasion from Nazi Germany, the entire family, including Felix’s mother, fled to Amsterdam, where relatives of both Felix and Gerda were already living. The family’s plans to leave Europe were stifled by the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940. The German air raids made a great impression on Maria, as did Felix Oestreicher’s brief internment by the Dutch government as an enemy alien. The family was forced to move to Leiden, then to the coast at Katwijk, then to Blaricum and finally back to Amsterdam. During the move from Blaricum to Amsterdam Maria and Beate went to Leiden to stay with Dutch families and hopefully remain there in hiding. But this did not work out. Back in Amsterdam we got a cat. Our father taught us every day at home because Jewish children were no longer allowed to go to school. We were forbidden from walking in the park, so we took our walks in the neighbourhood cemetery.
On November 1, 1943 the entire family was arrested and taken to the Hollandse Schouwburg before being transported to the Westerbork transit camp. Because I was suspected of diphtheria, I was placed in the Jewish hospital. In the spring of 1944 Beate, Maria, their parents and grandmother were transported to Bergen Belsen concentration camp. Approximately a year later, with the exception of grandmother Clara who was near death, they were loaded onto a train that wandered through Germany’s devastated landscape until Russian soldiers liberated the survivors in Tröbitz.
My parents and sisters recovered in a farmhouse surrounded by an orchard in bloom. It was the height of spring. Maria later recalled that she experienced her stay at Tröbitz as a heavenly and hellish fairy tale. My parents contracted typhoid fever and died one after the other. Maria and Beate were taken back to the Netherlands and moved in with their maternal grandparents in Amsterdam at the end of June 1945.
My two aunts, Maria and Lisbeth Oestreicher, brought Maria and Beate to the farm of the Braakhekke family in Gorssel where I had been in hiding. We saw each other for the first time in almost two years. They joined me at the farmhouse to recuperate and told me about what they had experienced when we played ‘train’ or ‘camp’.
Our maternal grandfather and guardian, Ernst Laqueur, found us a home in Bergen, North Holland, with Wil ter Laag-Koning, and her children Ineke and Anton. She lovingly cared for the three of us for two years. It was in Bergen that Beate and Maria attended school for the first time.
In 1947 our father’s sister Lisbeth Birman-Oestreicher and her husband Otto decided they would provide a permanent home for their three nieces. In Amersfoort we completed the last year of primary school and attended the gymnasium. After graduating in 1954, Maria went to Amsterdam to study social psychology and lived in student accommodation. In her second year, I became her roommate. Three years later, she met Joop Goudsblom and knew immediately that he was the one for her. They were married six months later.
Maria received her master’s degree in 1962 and accepted a job at the Social Pedagogical Institute at the University of Amsterdam. In the summer of 1964 their daughter Clara was born. Maria, Joop and Clara spent 1966 in the USA, where Joop had received fellowships to study at Princeton University and the University of California at Berkeley. They returned to Amsterdam, where their son Frank was born, in May 1967.
Joop was appointed a professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam in 1968 but Maria was unable to find a job that would also allow her to take care of the children (crèches did not yet exist). She began to do free-lance work for the National Federation for Mental Health and was an active member of Amnesty International.
Maria frequently did administrative work for her aunt the photographer Maria Austria. When Maria Austria died suddenly in January 1975, Maria and I shared responsibility for her archive. Supported by friends, we established the Stichting Fotoarchief Maria Austria-Particam.
In 1984, Maria conducted a long interview with her aunt Lisbeth Birman-Oestreicher for Wolfgang Wangler’s book Bauhaus-Weberei am Beispiel der Lisbeth Oestreicher, which was published in 1985.
Maria read and provided commentary on her husband’s lectures and articles and often accompanied him to academic conferences in the Netherlands and abroad, thus keeping abreast of developments in her academic field.
In 1968 Maria and her family moved close to my home with the result that her children and mine, approximately the same ages, attended the same school and often ate lunch or slept at each other’s homes. Over the years we celebrated birthdays, Sinterklaas, Christmas and the four children’s succes at exams together with grandparents, aunts and uncles. Since we could no longer celebrate Christmas at the home of Maria Austria. After 1975, we alternated the celebrations at Maria’s or my home on Christmas Eve. To continue this tradition even now after Maria’s death, Joop, Clara and Frank prepared Christmas dinner at their home in 2009 and 2011.

Maria had read the so-called ‘Drillingsberichte’ (Triplet Reports), a collection of Felix Oestreicher’s letters from 1937 to 1943 that had been found in the estate of Lisbeth Birman-Oestreicher. Moved by their content, she typed up the letters for her sister Beate’s sixtieth birthday in 1994. Two years later she decided to read the diaries our father wrote in the two concentration camps. With the help of a friend, Annelise Nassuth-Broschmann, she eventually deciphered the minutely scribbled notes and poems. The diaries were published in 2000 as Ein jüdischer Arzt-Kalender van Felix Hermann Oestreicher with a wonderful introduction by Maria. It was a challenging task for her in all respects, but she completed the manuscript with her characteristic dogged perseverance and with little fuss.
As if that were not enough, she then edited our mother Gerda’s childhood diaries from 1918 to 1929 and her later diaries from 1938-9 and wrote an accompanying commentary. Sadly, Maria did not live to read the positive reviews of Gerdas Tagebücher when it was published in 2010. She died in March 2009 just four months after celebrating her fiftieth wedding anniversary surrounded by her family and many friends.

Biography of Maria Goudsblom-Oestreicher 1936-2009

1936 Maria Ida Ernestine is born in Carlsbad (now Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic) shortly after her twin sister Henriette (Helli)
1938 family flees to the Netherlands
1943-1945 interned with parents, grandmother and Beate in Westerbork transit camp and Bergen Belsen concentration camp
1945 liberated in Tröbitz, death of her parents, returns with Beate to the Netherlands
1945 reunited with her sister Helli and lives at the farmhouse in Gorssel
1945 lives with the Ter Laag family in Bergen, North Holland
1947 moves in with her aunt and uncle Lisbeth Birman-Oestreicher in Amersfoort
1948 attends gymnasium in Amersfoort
1954 graduates from gymnasium, studies social psychology in Amsterdam
1958 marries Joop Goudsblom on November 28
1962 recieves master’s degree in Amsterdam
1964 birth of daughter, Clara Maria
1966 lives with her family in the USA: Princeton and Berkeley
1967 birth of son, Frank Pieter
1994 types up the ‘Drillingsberichte’ for Beate
2000 publication of Ein jüdischer Arzt-Kalender by Felix Hermann Oestreicher
2008 fiftieth wedding anniversary
2009 dies in Amsterdam
2010 publication of Gerdas Tagebücher