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  ...


Lise Lindenberg (verh. Mona Lisa Steiner)

  • Born: 10-30-1915
  • Faculty: Faculty of Philosophy
  • Category: expelled student

Lise LINDENBERG (married: Mona Lisa STEINER), born on October 30th, 1915 in Vienna/Austria (entitled residency ('heimatberechtigt') for Vienna/Austria, Citizenship: Austria), daughter of Ignaz Lindenberg (bank official), lived in Wien 13, Sandrockgasse 13, was enrolled finally in the spring term 1938 at the Philosophical School in the 4th year of her studies and took courses in Botany and Physics. In the spring term 1938 she could continue her studies in the context of the Numerus clausus of Jewish Students until the end of the term, but couldn't finish her studies no more.

She emigrated to the Philippines, worked as an opera singer, as a researcher in the Botaniy Studies and built up an international shopping service for exotic plants. She returned to Vienna in 1966 together with her family, after she had already graduated at the University of Vienna on June 25th, 1954 and finished her studies which have been interrupted in 1938, with her final thesis (Dissertation): 'Untersuchungen über die Wirkung karzinogener Substanzen auf höhere Pflanzen.' (doctoral advisors: Höfler, Geitler).

2012-2015 the research-project: "Tropical Botany in Exile. Mona Lisa Steiner (1914-2000): Scientific Continuities, Transfers and Practices in Austria and the Philippines" runs at the Department for contemporary History (Carola Sachse/Sonja Walch)

Lit.: Portrait of Mona Lisa STEINER, in: POSCH/INGRISCH/DRESSEL 2008, 341f.; Gedenkbuch für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus an der Österreichischen Akademie der WissenschaftenKANTZLER 2010;; KNIEFACZ/POSCH 2017b; KNIEFACZ/POSCH 2017c.


Mona Lisa STEINER – Sketch of a Portrait

Mona Lisa Lindenberg was born in 1915 Vienna; her mother was a concert singer and her father was a bank officer. She attended the Akademische Gymnasium [Academic Grammar School] and studied botany at the University of Vienna from 1934 onwards. Although she had already finalised her doctor’s thesis by the time of the "Anschluss", she could not finish her studies. Her Ph. D. supervisor was put on leave; she decided to emigrate and left Vienna in October 1938. Italy, Shanghai and finally the Philippines were her flight route. Mona Lisa Lindenberg registered at the University of the Philippines in Manila and got a position as a graduate assistant at the Botany Department of the university. She received her B. A. in 1940. In the same year, she married attorney Hans Steiner, a fellow refugee from Vienna. They would have three daughters.

Since she had never broken contact with her doctoral thesis supervisor, she learned that he had published her thesis under both her names in the "Botany Gazette" [Germ. orig. "Botanische Blaetter"]. She thus had, in spite of the amazing co-authorship from today’s perspective, a significant scientific reference for her M. A. and her further scientific career. At the same time, she was a highly successful singer: she had contracts with the Metropolitan Opera in Manila.

In December 1941, on the heels of the Japanese bombardment of Pearl Harbour, Manila was attacked and occupied by Japan. The closing of the University of Manila left Mona Lisa Steiner without a job. Her collection of Philippine plants, the watercolours she had painted for lack of photographic equipment, as well as her manuscripts were lost to fire.

She set up a successful business, based on her idea of a scientific plant breeding and international mail-order company. She was also a renowned expert and celebrated author for many a publication (including, among others, even as a columnist for daily newspapers). It was in this period that she wrote, next to many other published materials, a benchmark book on Philippine orchids.

In 1954 she finished her studies at the University of Vienna with the same thesis she had not submitted in 1938. Several years later, in 1965, the whole family returned to Austria, where a good professional opportunity had just opened for her husband. Having left behind her own, very specialised field of work, Mona Lisa Steiner found it difficult to establish herself in Vienna. So she applied herself to the further development of the Japanese art of flower arrangement, Ikebana, and founded the "Vienna school", whose theoretical bases she also wrote. In 1999, a year before she passed, Mona Lisa Steiner initiated an internet data base, which Vienna’s University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences [Universitaet fuer Bodenkultur] has operated and maintained to this day as the world’s largest multilingual data base for agricultural crops.

Doris Ingrisch | Herbert Posch | Gert Dressel


Nationale of Lise Lindenberg [später verehel. Steiner], fall term 1937/38 (1st form front), Photo: H. Posch (c) Universitätsarchiv WienNationale of Lise Lindenberg [spät...
Nationale of Lise Lindenberg [später verehel. Steiner], fall term 1937/38 (1st form back), Photo: H. Posch (c) Universitätsarchiv WienNationale of Lise Lindenberg [spät...
Nationale of Lise Lindenberg [later married Mona Lisa Steiner], spring term 1938 (1st form front), Photo: H. Posch (c) Universitätsarchiv WienNationale of Lise Lindenberg [later...
Nationale of Lise Lindenberg [later married Steiner], spring termn 1938 (1st form back), Photo: H. Posch (c) Universitätsarchiv WienNationale of Lise Lindenberg [later...
Mona Lisa Steiner, passport, (c) archive Mag. Ruth SteinerMona Lisa Steiner, passport, (c) ar...
Mona Lisa Steiner, photograph by Nancy Ann CoyneMona Lisa Steiner, photograph by Na...

zuletzt aktualisiert am 02.01.2021

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