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Felix Karl Bauer

Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Death: August 03, 2006 (92)
Due West, SC, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Rudolf Bauer and Risa Bauer
Husband of Martha Bauer
Father of Private and Private User

Occupation: Professor of Music
Managed by: Irit Diklah Shillor
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Felix Bauer

A short two-part memoir entitled "Leading to and Living in the USA 1914-1983" was sent by Dr. Bauer to the Leo Baeck Institute in New York in 1995.

An oral history interview (43 minutes, on videotape) is housed in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, on the web as Oral history interview with Felix Bauer.

Obituary from Greenville, S.C. News, August 5, 2006: "Professor Felix Bauer, South Carolina Holocaust Survivor"

Felix Bauer, longtime professor of art and music at Erskine College, died at age 92 at the Abbeville Area Medical Center on Thursday, August 3, 2006.

Born in Vienna, Austria on January 2, 1914 to Rudolf and Risa Bauer, Felix Karl Bauer grew up in that city. He attended the Realschule, studied architecture at the Technical University 1931-1933, and received a degree at the Institute of Graphic Arts and Research in 1935. He studied music composition privately with two well-known Viennese composers, Alban Berg (1933-1935) and Ernest Kanitz (1935-1937). He served in the Officers Training Unit of the Austrian Army for six months. His discharge came the day before Hitler's Anschluss when the Nazis invaded Austria. His parents did not survive the Holocaust.

After two years in a refugee camp at Diepoldsau, Switzerland, he went with a work group to the Dominican Republic, where he lived the next six years. In the town of Sosua, he met Martha Mondschein, a registered nurse from Cologne, Germany. They were married in 1943, and their son, Boris, was born there in 1945. They came to Due West, SC in 1946, becoming American citizens in 1951. Their daughter, Linda, was born in Abbeville, SC, in 1949.

Before Mr. Bauer left Vienna, he was a free-lance commercial artist. In the Dominican Republic, he conducted a choir and taught music and art in the Sosua elementary and high schools. At Erskine College, he was a music and art professor for 33 years. He started the Erskine Exhibition Center in 1958, handling some 200 exhibits during the next 22 years. His musical compositions have been performed nationally.

His compositions are now permanently housed in the University of South Carolina School of Music Library. Erskine College named him Professor Emeritus and honored him with a doctoral degree.


The Music Library, Erskine College: Special Collections / The Felix Bauer Collection

Professor Felix Bauer was professor of art and music at Erskine College from 1946 until his retirement in 1979. Prof. Bauer was born in Vienna, and being of Jewish heritage, was forced to leave Austria during the Nazi Anschluss. During the 1930s, however, he studied with the great Austrian composer Alban Berg, and composed steadily from 1933 to 2003. Prof. Bauer tells his story in these excerpts:

"As an only child I lived with my parents in an apartment. We had a maid who had her own room in our home. Only German was spoken in our home, and only high German as my father was a college graduate (Realschule). We lived in VIIth Bezirk, Wimbergergasse 38. My grandfather had for many decades a hardware store at Burggasse. The only religious education I got was in the afternoon classes in both public school and Realschule. Being brought up during the Social-Democratic period in Austria's history, religion was a very minor concern. We did not keep kosher, but at the high holidays my father would go to a synagogue in the 8th Bezirk. My two best friends (for life) were non-Jewish. We knew that one was forced out of his job to join the early illegal Nazi Party. When I was already out of the country, he visited my parents in his SS uniform frequently until my parents made it clear to him that this was dangerous for him. In 1995 I flew with my daughter to Austria for this friend's funeral. We followed the events of Hitler's rise on the radio daily and, naturally, were frightened to death. But we were, like most of the Jews, completely powerless and stunned. My father lost his job as a Valuten-Kassler (cashier of foreign money) at the Bodencredit Anstalt where he had worked for more than 20 years. I had all my education finished before the Anschluss. My Abschlusszuegnis (certificate) from the Realschule, the various certificates of 1-1/2 years of the Technische Hochschule (Architecture), and my completion from the Graphische Lehr-und-Versuchs Anstalt. I realized the impossibility of ever getting a job with the daily increasing danger which made me determined to get a passbook. After staying in line for 3 weeks (every work day) and being exposed to the constant harassment at the office, I finally gave it up and went illegally over the Swiss border without any document. When I was gone, a neighbor in SA uniform called on my parents and said, "We got married and need a suitable home." He gave my parents a week to move out. That man was a former schoolmate whom I had tutored in the Realschule in order for him to make it with his limited brain. When Crystalnight occurred, I was already out of Austria. After I left Austria, eventually, my father was sent to the Iron Mountain, west of Leoben, for hard labor. I think my parents were sent to Thereinstadt and then to Auschwitz. On August 17, 1938 , I left by train to Felkirch and Hohenems, having only one carry-on with one change of underwear, a camera, and the equivalent of $10.00. I crossed the "Old Rhine" to the refugee camp in Diepoldsau. I was there two years. Having heard of the outcome of the AvienConference, where only the Dominican Republic offered refugees a place to work and stay, two Viennese friends and I applied for that. We went to Geneva, then took a train to Perpignan in the South of France; went by bus over the Pyrenees to Madrid and then by train to Lisbon, Portugal, where we saw the first clean and civilized city in a long time. We went by steamer to New York and waited at Ellis Island for 10 days. We took a ship to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. After a few days at the capital, we got our "cedula" (identification paper). After so many years, we felt like human beings again. I was in Sosua, a refugee settlement, from 1940-1946. I married Martha Mondschein Bauer, RN, who was from Cologne, Germany and trained at the Jewish Hospital there, on March 5, 1943. We, with our 1-year-old son, Boris, arrived on October 4, 1946 in Due West, SC. [Prof. Bauer and his wife had wished to emigrate to the United States, but that was difficult to arrange without support from inside the country. As it happened, Prof. Ernest Kanitz, who had been Prof. Bauer's counterpoint teacher in Vienna following his studies with Alban Berg, had formerly taught at Erskine, and assisted Prof. Bauer in obtaining his previous position.] Of my relatives, 27 died at Auschwitz or other extermination camps. One aunt and her family went to Israel and a cousin went to Australia after a short while in Israel."

Of his musical education Prof. Bauer relates the following: "In Vienna, 8 years piano; 1-1/2 years harmony with the Austrian composer Alban Berg, & 2 years counterpoint with Ernest Kanitz (Neues Wiener Konservatorium). I have consistently composed since before I left Austria. A number of my compositions have been performed, mostly at E[rskine] C[ollege]." Prof. Bauer's compositions are varied, and his techniques undogmatic. The many compositions in the collection range from 1933 to 2003, when Prof. Bauer's health forced him to cease writing.

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Felix Bauer's Timeline

January 2, 1914
Vienna, Austria
August 3, 2006
Age 92
Due West, SC, United States