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