Birth: November 14, 1901 in Vienna, Austria
Death: February 17, 1994 (age 92) in Victoria, B.C.
Frederick was a Professor Emeritus Univ. of Victoria
Rabbi Victor Hillel Reinstein gave the following eulogy at his funeral:
Funeral: February 18, 1994; 7 Adar 5754
Yohrzeit: 6 Adar
Like the fading notes of a symphony that remain suspended in the air when the piece is finished, tangible, pulsating, a living enduring echo,so the meoldy of this man’s life, Professor Frederick Tuvia Kriegel, Tuvi ben Shlomo Tzvi Hersch ha Cohen v’Idel Bayla.
“Kriegel”, as I understand from him in proper German pronunciation is “Krügel”, which means ‘a large glass’. A life is a vessel, a glass, to be filled with meaning, a well of experience and outlook, to be drawn from and to be nurtured by, dependent on the richness and quality of the filling. The ‘glass’ of Professor Kriegel’s life was always half-full. He was able to look at the bright side of things, filled with a sense of wonder, always with a childish twinkle in his eye. He would laugh at his contradictions, a Viennese who couldn’t dance, and Austrian who didn’t like beer.
Professor Kriegel’s father Solomon, was a Polish Jew, a “real Jew” it seemed he meant in moments of reverential reverie, a Polish Jew from Drohobicz. His mother Oygenie, was a German Jew of many generations from Wiesbaden in the state of Reinish Hesse. His father died of diabetes in 1920. His mother perished in the Holocaust, deported first to Tereiseshtadt and from there her fate unknown. Honoring his father and mother, his parents’ pictures remain on brother Edgar, who found haven from the Holocaust in Uraguary, whom he saw only once as each went into distant exile, linked forever though, through childhood photos of twinkly-eyed boys. His only living relatives now are two nieces, one in Uraguary, Edgar’s daughter, and a niece, Thea in Austria. His family was deeply important to Professor Kriegel. After his father died he cared for his mother and for Nina, his Jewish nanny who cared for him like a mother from his earliest days and remained with the family until she too perished in the Holocaust. These two women plus his wife, his beloved Theresia, were the three most important women in his life from his earliest years.
Theresia had been his piano student, a “proletarian” woman, as he said, of German peasant stock who converted to Judaism prior to meeting him, a fact that always amazed him. Of his golden Thea”, he said, “We were made for each other. She was so loving. When I am alone, I cry when I think of her.” They were married in 1934 and she died in 1976. He would explain how he asked her if she wanted to divorce when Hitler (“yemach shmo” – may his name be blotted out”) came to power. With his amazed smile and twinkle, he would then say “…but she chose to come into ‘exile’ with me. Can you imagine that?!” With the Anschlus, the German annexation of Austria early in 1938, Frederick and Thea left Austria in August, 1938. They did not have children because he felt it was not a time to bring Jewish children into the world.
Since her death he would hold the beautiful flowered notebook of his wife’s childhood poetry and explain that the beautiful neatly ordered script describes her life. Theirs was an enduring love and now he comes to rest beside her.
“Professor” was his calling and identity. Professor Kriegel taught German language and literature at the University of Victoria for 24 years from the early 1950’s. Whether teaching literature or piano he was the professor. He said very simply, “I had something to teach; I tried to convey it.” Music was the ‘tonic’ of his life. The great composers were his friends, every note a syllable of prayer that touched his heart. Even the fine points of music theory remained with him to the end. Not long ago he explained to me what a ‘fugue’ is, which unfortunately I still do not understand. He lived a ‘classical’ life of old world culture and learning, in a sense never adapting to the world and culture of North America. Yet he had interests that might surprise us. He loved trains and railroading. Sitting on his desk until he left his May Street home, was a model of one of the great locomotives of yesteryear. Bridging old world and new world cultures, the Kriegels were friends of Emily Carr from soon after their arrival in Victoria until the artist’s death.
Friends were always important to the Professor. He had close friends to the end, such as Nicholas and Margaret. Becoming in his mind the 4th woman in his life, in more recent years was Ava. Ava because as a daughter, and Alex as a son, each devoted in the way of children. And so they mourn. And from our community, Lynn Greenhough became in providential fashion a beloved bond and guide of return to Jewish life and Jewish discourse. The mezuzah she placed upon his door marked a re-entry. Through these friends the last years of his life were a time of growth and intellectual excitement, of probing. These last years saw the formal Viennese professor open up a new acceptance for people. He felt and expressed new love in his heart, transcending per-conceived notions about people.
Professor Kriegel was a sincere honest man for whom honesty and ethics were paramount. He had a deep Jewish soul and love and pride for the Jewish people. He seemed to want a way back to a more formal connection with his people but was not quite sure how to go about it. His heart yearned.
The last days of Professor Kriegel were remarkable. His death was a profound experience for those close to him. He was sharp and alert until the day before he died. On that day he spoke of his sins and shortcomings and cried. I recited with him the “Vidui“, the traditional confession, or better ‘acknowledgement’ of sins and expression of hope. He wanted me to ask the community for forgiveness for his lack of contact. On your/our behalf I assured him it was granted. He recited the “Sh’ma” and said “I a at peace.”
So may you be at peace dear professor, Tuvia ben Shlomo Tzvi Hersch haCohen v’Idel Bayla. In this week’s Torah portion, Aaron is told to raise up light in the desert sanctuary with pure olive oil. The oil of the lam comes to stand for the soul. So may the light of your soul Tuvia Krigel rise up and burn brightly and may the melody of your life linger always for those who loved you and whom you have touched. As you are gathered to yr ancestors and return to your beloved Thea and to the Holy One, may your memory remain a blessing among the living.
Gravesite Details: Row D – Plot 44
Theresia Ruth Stiller Krieger (1900–1976)