Felicitas Steinhauser was born in 1915 in Vienna, Austria. She came from a small, religious family consisting of her parents and her younger sister. Miss Steinhauser said that she always lived with anti-semitism in Vienna,recalling that she had been called a "Christ-killer" when she was as young as three years of age. She also described the difficulties of a "pull-out" program for religious education in the public schools; she said that returning to her regular classroom after this instruction was painful as the other students made derogatory comments to the Jewish children.
Miss Steinhauser's father, an engineer, died of wounds sustained in World War I when she was a young girl. Her mother and her sister were deported to their deaths from Belgium in January, 1943. It appears that her fiance also lost his life during this latter period.
Following is a chronology of Miss Steinhauser's experiences during and after the War.
•1938 - Saw Hitler annex Austria, saying the Austrians welcomed him. Caught while trying to escape to Germany. A German police man gave her a false passport and later a work permit.
•1938-39·- In Aachen, Germany., worked in a Jewish nursing home assisting the nurses. On one occasion,the Gestapo took her out to shoot her, but, at the last minute, let her go. According to Miss.Steinhauser, "This could never have happened in Austria, they would have killed me... .These men were very religious Catholics and it helped."
While at the nursing home, the Germans offered her a good home in Belgium for her mother, her sister, and herself if she would "make notes of Jewish people in the home with money and jewelry." Her respons," If I do that, you have a right to be a Nazi."
•1939 - Wrote to her sister's British penpal's family asking them to sponsor her to come to England as a maid. Subsequently went to EngJand, but was unsuccessful in trying to help her mother and sister escape.
•1941- 1945 - Worked on uniforms for the war effort. After a few years became engaged again. Her f iance was killed in England by a bomb.
•1946-1955 - In 1946 Miss Steinhauser found out about the deaths of her mother and her sister. She then immigrated to Toronto and lived there for nine years, working in a bank and becoming a supervisor there. Later, overwhelmed by an ''avalanche of Germans and Austrians in Toronto," she decided to leave.
•1955 - Came to Rochester where she had relatives.
Miss Steinhauser feels that, for some reason she was meant to be a survivor. This is the first time that she has discussed her personal history.
Interviewed by Suzanne M. Jaschik