The Memorial Book

The handwritten, original memorial book is kept at the Marpe Lanefesch Memorial (the former Jewish House of Worship at the General Hospital of Vienna), on the University of Vienna campus.

The memorial book records all the names known to date, as well as their year of birth and faculty; for lecturers, the subject they taught; for academic titles rescinded during the National Socialist regime, the graduation year as well as their degree.

The online data base "Memorial Book Dedicated to the Victims of National Socialism at the University of Vienna 1938" includes roughly 2,200 names. 1,770 of the approximately 2,230 expelled students have been identified by name thus far, in addition to the names of the 234 graduates, whose academic credentials were rendered invalid, and to the approximately 200 professors and lecturers who were dismissed.


Whose names can be found in the data base?

expelled student
dismissed lecturers and researchers
graduates whose academic titles were rescinded


What personal information has been included in the database?

All entries
Dismissed lecturers and research personnel
Expelled students
Individuals whose academic credentials were rescinded


Expelled students

The University of Vienna does not have a nominal list of the students expelled for "racial" and/or "political" reasons. After the national-socialist regime seized power, the tally of the students registered at the University of Vienna shrank from roughly 9,180 in the first semester of 1937/38 to approximately 5,350 in the first semester of 1938/39. That is a decline by 42%. 2,230 persecuted students were identified by statistical means (23% of the students registered in 1937/38). The following 1,580 of the expelled students were identified nominally. Thus far, the remaining 650 names could not be unequivocally ascertained.

In many years of research, the list of expelled students was compiled according to the following criteria:

All students of the first semester of 1937/38 and of the second semester of 1938 who had written in the rubrics "Religion, rite, denomination", or "Native language", or "Ethnicity" of the "Nationale" (enrollment sheet) information leading to the conclusion that they would have been regarded as Jews under the rules of national-socialism. In the first semester of 1938/39, none of them was enrolled any longer.

Further, the list features all students who did not define themselves as "Jewish" in the "Nationale", but were regarded as such on the grounds of other sources, mostly of documents kept in the archive of the University of Vienna. (All applications for continuation of studies under the numerus clausus [restricted admission] regulations, all admissions and rejections in this group from the summer of 1938; in the first semester of the next school year, the numerus clausus rule had become obsolete and Jewish students were barred from university study.)

Additionally, 222 students were included on the list, who had been awarded doctorates between June and December 1938 as "non-Arian" alumni. 57 of them were still enrolled in 1937/38, 165 had already obtained their "Absolutorium" [proof that they had completed their university studies, without having graduated yet], were taking their final exams and therefore not officially enrolled any longer. In spite of discrimination, they were able to graduate; however, they were instantly banned from their professions and therefore qualify for inclusion in the memorial book.

Further entries in the memorial book feature the names of all those legitimately listed in the "Nominal Data Base of Austrian Victims of the Holocaust", of the "Dokumentationsarchivs des Österreichischen Widerstandes" (DÖW) [Documentary Archive of the Austrian Resistance] and in the "Yad Vashem-Database of the Victims of the Shoah".

Students who were able to enroll by regular procedure in the first semester of 1938/39 were deemed not persecuted and are therefore not listed, with the notable exception of individuals who, according to national-socialist criteria, were considered Jewish "half-breeds" (of the 1st or 2nd degree), i. e. who had one or two Jewish grandparents. These were enrolled under reserve, with the annotation "half-breed", whereby their right to pursue studies, to take examinations or to be awarded doctoral titles was subject to abrogation at any time and without justification, which also occurred in most instances. Under certain conditions, a small number (of "half-breeds" of the 2nd degree) were able to maintain this special status during the national-socialist rule and subsequently graduate; however, they were never awarded the otherwise customary authorization to perform academic professions, e. g. license to operate a medical practice or to teach. All students who, according to national-socialist criteria, were labeled as Jewish "half-breeds" were therefore included in the memorial book.

Neither the names, nor the number of students persecuted during the national-socialist period for their democratic convictions are known at present. They are the subject matter of ongoing research. The number is arguably less significant than in comparable universities in national-socialist Germany, given that the University of Vienna had been purged of these students as early as 1933/34-1938, during the so-called period of "Austrofaschismus" [Austrian fascism].

Dismissed lecturers and research personnel

Approximately 350 teaching staff (professors, university and private lecturers) were persecuted and lost their employment during the national-socialist reorganization of the University of Vienna in 1938, over 200 of them for "racial" reasons and about 130 for "political" reasons. Not all these individuals were listed in the memorial book, because those dismissed for "political" reasons also included officials and proponents of the Austro-fascist corporate state (1933/34 - 1938), as well as people who were discharged because of political rivalries within the national-socialist party. Identifying and assessing those professors and lecturers is the subject matter of intensive research and contention. To date, the memorial book includes the names of those individuals who were dismissed for doubtlessly "racial" reasons or for their democratic convictions, as well as the names of those who were made redundant for political reasons and subsequently maintained their principles. Many a
dismissal must be examined and assessed individually, as in the course of unsatisfactory reparations for the injustices of the Austro-fascist regime numerous individuals (national-socialists, as well as social-democrats and communists) were rehabilitated  after 1945 as victims of national-socialism, in spite of their having sided with a regime that had promoted anti-Semitic policies, had dissolved the Austrian Parliament, had abolished the freedom of press, congregation and expression, had introduced the death penalty, the corporate state and persecution of dissidents. The present memorial book is consistent with today's democratic identity of the University of Vienna and attempts therefore to take a firm and differentiated stand. This process is ongoing, will be continued in the following years and will result in the inclusion of ascertainable victims of national-socialism in the memorial book.

Long overdue research has yet to be done into the cases of aggregate and assistant physicians who had not yet earned the right to teach [Habilitation], as well as those of other employees. From the latter category, some former employees of the University library, who were dismissed for "racial" reasons, were included in the memorial book.

Individuals whose academic credentials were rescinded

During the national-socialist period, March 12, 1938 - May 9, 1945, a number of 274 academic titles (doctorates and master's degrees) previously awarded by the University of Vienna were invalidated. The names of the 234 individuals whose degrees were rescinded for "racial" and/or "political" reasons were included in the memorial book. This was a case of systematic ostracism perpetrated against Jews and dissidents by means of invalidation of their academic credentials. They were retroactively declared "unworthy of an academic title" and stripped of their doctor's or master's degrees.
Only sporadic re-awarding of the annulled academic credentials took place after 1945. Therefore, all degrees nominally known at the time were re-awarded in 1955. It was an inchoate and secret procedure. The Senate of the University of Vienna decided in April 2003 to "declare null and void each and every rescission by the University of Vienna of academic credentials for political reasons, during the national-socialist period". In a commemoration ceremony in March 2004, further 31 national-socialist rescissions were declared null and void (among others, those concerning
Bruno Bettelheim, Albert Fuchs, Alphonse Rothschild and Stefan Zweig).
The issue of degree rescission under national-socialist rule has since been systematically revisited. The number and identity of those concerned have been the object of sustained research. Alongside racially motivated degree rescissions due to deprivation of citizenship, other, politically motivated cases were included in the memorial book: those following conviction for crimes according to paragraphs of national-socialist law, e. g. "listening to enemy radio stations", "insulting the NSDAP [German National-Socialist Workers' Party] or their uniform", "sedition", "Rassenschande" [race defilement, referring to sexual intercourse with Jews], or "Heimtückegesetz,  the law against malice" [a law instituted to prevent and punish the crime of slandering the regime].

The inclusion in the memorial book of the university affiliates who, by today's perception of justice, were discriminated against aims at reinstating them in their academic honor and dignity and to rehabilitate them, at least posthumously.

The sources available in the archive of the University of Vienna were extensively mined for information that might lead to relevant names: the minutes (including annotations and comments) of all awarding ceremonies of master's and doctor's degrees at all faculties between 1870 and 1985 were searched, as were the indices of all files of the rector's office from 1938 to 1945, the relevant documents of the special archive of the Senate (1938-1984) and countless other individual documents. Additionally, the investigations focused on the denaturalization lists published in the "Deutscher Reichsanzeiger" [the official journal of the Third Reich]. These always headed the lists of "racially" motivated rescissions of academic titles. Thus far, biographic research could only be carried out in individual cases, but work is in progress.  

What personal information has been included in the database?

All entries

Name: all known first and last names. Women often studied under their maiden names, but subsequently bore and/or became known under their married name. In many cases, we were not able to reconstruct this path. Whenever we could, we included both names (married names annotated with "mar." [orig. Germ.: "verh."], respectively maiden names with "née" [orig. Germ.: "geb."]).  From contemporary documents listing two names that were annotated with "false" or "recte", we also culled different spelling variants of same names. In interviews, correspondence or other sources, we came across further names - married names or names adapted to the language of the country individuals emigrated to - and proceeded to include these names in the memorial book as well. All different spelling variations of each particular name, respectively all different names a person is known to have borne, can be called up in the "Name" field. Academic titles of students were included only insofar as they had been mentioned in the "Nationale"-form by the students themselves.

year of birth, respectively date of birth, as a separate search criterion;

place/country of birth: name of country of origin and toponym in the contemporary spelling (in data originating in "Nationale"-forms from 1937/1938, we also provide in square brackets additional information on current country names and/or toponyms, in as much as changes have occurred in the intervening time);


faculty: each individual was affiliated to (studied at, graduated from, respectively taught or did research at).


Dismissed lecturers and research personnel

academic title at the time of dismissal;

subject or area of expertise they had been licensed to teach or do research in;

• lecturers who became victims of the Shoah: if available, information concerning their <>deportation destination, respectively the date when they passed away;

• information on emigration, remigration, reemployment/reenrollment at the University of Vienna after 1945, if applicable.


Expelled students

year of studies in which the student was last enrolled at the University of Vienna;

• for students of the Faculty of Philosophy, the subjects they attended lectures and courses in (it is often impossible to match names and fields of study unambiguously);

• applications by Jewish students for continuation of studies in the first semester of 1938, under the numerus clausus [restricted admission] regulations, admissions and rejections;

• whether and when they were issued a semester certificate (which validated the semester and the respective credits), or an "Absolutorium" (proof that they had successfully completed the required number of semesters and a pre-requisite for viva voce examinations and awarding of doctorates), or leaving certificate (which confirms the number of semesters successfully completed and the departure from the university, graduation notwithstanding);

• information and comments concerning the annotation "half-breed";

• information regarding whether the individual was able to graduate from the University of Vienna - whether as a 1938/39 "non-Arian" alumnus/alumna, or after 1945;

• for students who became victims of the Shoah: if available, information concerning their deportation destination, respectively the date when they passed away;

• the "Nationale" (enrollment sheet) from the years 1937/38 and 1938/39.


Individuals whose academic credentials were rescinded

• the date their doctor's title was awarded;

• the academic title bestowed on them;

• for the Faculty of Philosophy, we additionally provided in square brackets the doctoral subject, respectively the title of the dissertation;

date/year of and reason for rescission of the academic title;

date/year of reinstatement;

• entry in the graduation protocol ("Promotionsprotokoll").