Following the advent of the National Socialist regime in the year 1938, more than 2,700 mostly Jewish affiliates of the University of Vienna were dismissed and subsequently driven away and/or murdered - lecturers, students and administration employees. Furthermore, over 200 people were stripped of their academic titles.
In 2008, 70 years after the so-called "Anschluss" [annexation] and the pogroms of what came to be cynically called the "Kristallnacht" [Crystal Night], the University of Vienna commemorates this injustice and  ...


Adele Engelberg (verh. Spensley)

  • Born: 10-23-1911
  • Faculty: Faculty of Medicine
  • Category: expelled teacher

Adele ENGELBERG, M.D., married SPENSLEY, born on October 23rd, 1911 in Stary Sambor, Galicia/Austro-Hungaria [later Poland, today: Staryj Sambir|Старий Самбір/Ukraine] (entitled resideny ("heimatberechtigt") Vienna/Austria, citizenship 1938: Austria), graduated in June 1936 at the Medical School and was employed as unpaid assistent doctor ("Hilfsaerztin ohne Stipendium") at the 2nd Ophthalmic University Clinic (Prof. Lindner) until March 1938.

After the takeover of power by National-Socialism in March 1938 she was forced to leave the University and the clinic for racist reasons.

Adele Engelberg had to flee from Austria and was able to emigrate to Great Britain for the time being, where she lived in Swansea, Wales, until she received her U. S. visa in London on March 18th, 1940, and on May 7th, 1940, she emigrated with the SS Pennland from Southampton, England, to the U. S., where she arrived in New York City, NY, on May 16th, 1940. She gave her sister Recha Engelberg's address in Tampa, FL as her first port of call, but settled in New York City, NY.

Adele Engelberg, daughter of Majer Leib/Leopold Engelberg, recte Gottesmann (1875-1942, merchant, wood wholesaler) and Chajes Sarah Engelberg, recte Gottesmann (1876-1936), had already moved with her family - parents and six siblings - from Galicia to Vienna as a four-year-old at the beginning of the First World War in 1915. She had completed her entire school education in Vienna and on June 24th, 1930, she had passed her school-leaving examination (Matura) with good results at the Realgymnasium des Vereins für realgymnasialen Maedchenunterricht in Vienna's 8th district, Albertgasse 38.
Subsequently, in the fall term of 1930/31, she began to study medicine at the University of Vienna and, after the minimum period of study of ten semesters, received her doctorate on June 5th, 1936. However, before she was able to open her own medical practice (shebecame a member of the Vienna Medical Association and registered as a physician with the Vienna Magistrate in June 1936), she was appointed as an assistant physician without a salary for one year, starting on July 1st, 1936, and worked at the 2nd University Eye Clinic under the direction of Prof. Karl David Lindner (1883-1961). Her appointment was extended on July 9th, 1937 until the end of June 1938, but before the usual renewal, after the National Socialists seized power in March, the appointment contract was prematurely terminated on April 30th for racist reasons and as of May 1st, 1938 she was replaced by Dr. Kurt Hiebaum - Adele Engelberg was forced to leave the University of Vienna and the General Hospital of Vienna.

Adele Engelberg had to flee Vienna and tried to find a position in Switzerland, Great Britain or the USA in order to be able to travel there. During this time she worked as an intern at the Chemical-Microscopic Laboratory in the Vienna Sanatorium Dr. Anton Löw until the end of June 1938 and assisted as an ophthalmologist in the Hospital of the Vienna Jewish Community from March 1st until the end of August 1939.
After efforts to find employment as an ophthalmologist in Switzerland failed due to objections from the immigration police in 1938, she succeeded in finding a position in Swansea, Wales/Great Britain in 1939 and was able to travel by train from Vienna via London to Wales at the end of August 1939. Although one of her sisters was already living in London, England, and she was also exempted from internment as an enemy alien on October 31st, 1939, she made further efforts to emigrate from England to the USA.
Another sister, Dr. phil. Recha Engelberg (born 1900, a graduate of the University of Vienna in 1924), who had already successfully emigrated to Tampa, FL/USA, was able to find a sponsor for her who issued an affidavit which enabled her to obtain a U.S. immigrant visa in London on March 18th, 1940. On May 7th, 1940, she traveled from Southampton, England, on the SS Pennland to the U.S., arriving in New York City, NY, on May 16th, 1940. She found lodging in Lower Manhattan in New York City, NY, and sought her American medical license, but it was subject to stringent conditions and numerous studies and examinations. She was able to find an internship at Memorial Hospital in Albany, NY, in 1941 and in the summer successfully passed all the required English-language medical exams for th noctrification of her graduation and received her U.S. license to practice from New York State on August 28th, 1942.

In addition to two sisters who had emigrated to England (London) - one of whom, Dr. Dina Bunzl, née Engelberg (1914-1983), was the only one to return to Austria in 1946 - another sister had emigrated to the U.S. and another to Palestine [Israel] as well as a brother to France; another sister and her father remained in Vienna for the time being, but before the planned departure to the U.S. respectively Cuba, could be realized, her father Majer Leib/Leopold Engelberg was deported on July 28th, 1942, from Vienna's 2nd district, Nestroygasse 1/9, to Theresienstadt [Terezín/Czech Republic] and later murdered and her sister Charlotte Engelberg shortly thereafter on August 17th, 1942 deported from Vienna to Maly Trostinec [Poland] and murdered; her brother Dr. iur. Heinrch Engelberg was interned in the camp in Drancy after the German occupation of France and deported to the German concentration and extermination camp in Auschwitz [Oświęcim/Poland] in August 1942 and murdered.

Adele Engelberg remained in the U.S. after the end of National Socialism - she had become a U.S. citizen in the meantime - and worked as a physician at Memorial Hospital in Albany, NY until 1958. She married the American-born Robert E. Spensley (1918-2002) on July 2nd, 1958 in Avon, CT/USA and her last residence was in Easton, CT/USA.

Dr. Adele Engelberg-Spensley deceased on October 22nd, 2005 and is burried at Workmens Circle Cemetery in Fairfield, CT/USA.

Lit.: Archive of the University of Vienna/enrollment forms ("Nationale") MED 1934-1937, graduation registry ("Promotionsprotokoll") MED XIII (1929-1941) Nr. 2935, rectorate GZ 677 ex 1937/38 Nr 91 und GZ 680 ex 1937/38; Ruth und Peter WEINBERGER, Sechs Schwestern auf der Flucht vor den Nationalsozialisten, Weissenkirchen 2021; REITER-ZATLOUKAL/SAUER 2022; information from Dr. Barbara Sauer, Vienna 07/2017 and from Adele Engelberg-Spensley's grand niece Dr. Ruth Jolanda Weinberger, New York 12/2021;;

Herbert Posch


Adele Engelberg, student identification 1930, © Ruth Jolanda & Peter WeinbergerAdele Engelberg, student identifica...
Adele Engelberg, copy of graduation diploma, 1936 © Ruth Jolanda & Peter WeinbergerAdele Engelberg, copy of graduation...
Adele Engelberg, announcment as an assistant doctor at the 2nd Ophthalmic University Clinic, 1937 © Ruth Jolanda & Peter WeinbergerAdele Engelberg, announcment as an ...
Adele Engelberg, dismissal and exclusion from oath April 1938, © Archive of the University of ViennaAdele Engelberg, dismissal and excl...

zuletzt aktualisiert am 06.12.2021

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