Karl & Clara Oestreicher-Kisch
Visual biography

My grandparents Karl and Clara Oestreicher lived in the imposing house ‘Deutscher Kaiser’ (German Emperor) renamed ‘Deutscher Reiter’ (German Cavalier) after 1918, on the Sprudelstraße in Carlsbad (now Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic). It was directly opposite the Kurhaus, where patients often came to drink the curative waters. Karl Oestreicher was the district doctor.
I know little of my grandfather apart from a few photographs and a poster announcing a comic play that he wrote. He died in 1915, during the First World War, just before the birth of his second daughter Marie.
Clara Oestreicher-Kisch was born in the popular spa town Marienbad (now Mariánské Lázně, Czech Republic), not far from Carlsbad. She was the eldest in a family of four girls and one boy. Her father, E. Heinrich Kisch, was a well-known physician and professor at the University of Prague. In his impressive book Erlebtes und Erstrebtes (Experience and Aspirations), he describes his youth in Prague and his transformation, through diligence and discipline, from a poor Jewish boy to an erudite and respected physician.
My grandmother Clara was a delicate yet strong woman. With her husband’s death during the First World War, she was left to care for a newborn baby and two children. Felix, her eldest son, studied medicine before being conscripted into the army. In 1918 he took over his father’s medical practice.
For her daughters, Lisbeth and Marie Clara was an emancipated mother who encouraged them to learn a trade. Lisbeth studied art in Vienna and Munich before going to the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany. Marie completed her studies in photography in Vienna. Both became professional artists of significance.
At the end of December 1930 Felix Oestreicher and Gerda Laqueur were married in Amsterdam and made their home above Felix’s medical practice in Carlsbad.
Clara, Omi to her grandchildren, saw her household expand when her first grandchild Beate was born in 1934, followed eighteen months later by the twins Maria and Henriette (Helli). This period of happiness was brought to an abrupt end in 1938 when the family felt forced to flee to Amsterdam to avoid the Nazi threat.
In 1943 Clara Oestreicher and her family were arrested by the German occupying forces in Amsterdam and interned in Westerbork transit camp and then taken to Bergen Belsen. Clara Oestreicher died there.
I have clear and fond memories of my Omi. Her soothing presence has remained with me, familiar and warm. She taught us to bake cookies, to knit and crochet, read us German stories and was always willing to play with us. I also remember that she observed the Jewish High Holy Days by fasting on Yom Kippur.

Biography of Karl Oestreicher 1864-1915

1864 born in Carlsbad (now Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic)
1891 marries Clara Kisch
1894 birth of son Felix Hermann
1898 birth of son Willush, who drowns in 1911 during a holiday on the Baltic Sea
1902 birth of daughter Lisbeth
1915 Karl Oestreicher dies, birth of his daughter Marie, later known as Maria Austria

Biography of Clara Oestreicher-Kisch 1871-1945

1871 born in Marienbad (now Mariánské Lázně, Czech Republic)
1891 marries Karl Oestreicher, moves to Carlsbad (now Karlovy Vary)
1894 birth of son Felix Hermann
1898 birth of son Willush, who drowns in 1911 during a holiday on the Baltic Sea
1902 birth of daughter Lisbeth
1915 Karl Oestreicher dies
1915 birth of daughter Marie
1918 Felix graduates as a physician and starts practice in his parents’ home
1926-1930 Lisbeth studies at the Bauhaus in Dessau
1931 Gerda and Felix move in with Clara, Lisbeth moves to Amsterdam
1932-1937 Marie studies in Vienna
1938 flees with Felix, Gerda and children to the Netherlands
1943 interned in Westerbork concentration camp
1944 sent with family to Bergen Belsen (Germany)
1945 dies in Bergen Belsen concentration camp