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  ...


Erna Mandel (verh. Wodak)

  • Born: 11-30-1916
  • Faculty: Faculty of Philosophy
  • Category: expelled student

Erna MANDEL (married WODAK), born November 30, 1916 in Vienna, (resident of Vienna, Austrian citizen), daughter of Aaron L. Mendel, rabbi in Favoriten [10th district of Vienna], deceased 15 April, 2003, lived in the 10th district of Vienna, on 142 Gudrunstrasse. Starting from 1934, she studied chemistry at the University of Vienna under the guidance of Hermann Mark, among others.
She was last registered in the first term of 1937/1938 at the Faculty of Philosophy, in her fourth and last year of studies. Her application to continue her studies in the second term of 1938 was rejected in May of 1938, in the context of a policy of restricted admission for Jewish students. She managed to escape to England in July 1938, with no choice but to leave behind in the chemistry laboratory her notes for her master’s thesis.

Erna Mandel started out as a house maid in Great Britain; subsequently, she was able to continue her chemistry studies at the University of Liverpool and to graduate as a master of science.  Her relationship to Walter Wodak, who was later to become her spouse and whom she had met in 1939, prevented her from accepting a scientist’s position in Chicago. She wrote her doctoral thesis at the University of Manchester, where she was awarded her Ph. D. in 1944. She went on to work in the highly wartime-relevant field of surrogate materials at Grosvenor Laboratory in London, run by Chaim Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organisation and subsequently first President of the State of Israel.

Oxford, July 1944: Erna Mandel married Walter Wodak, who went on to become an Austrian diplomat in London. As a diplomat’s spouse, Erna Wodak took on prominent duties and responsibilities at the Austrian embassy. She had to sacrifice her own scientific career in 1947 – she was a senior research chemist at London’s Cavendish Laboratories – in favour of her activity for the Austrian embassy. The couple moved to Vienna in 1950, only for Walter Wodak to be sent to the Austrian embassy in Paris in 1951. Delegated first as an envoy in 1953 and subsequently as an ambassador to Belgrade, Yugoslavia, it wasn’t until 1959 that Walter Wodak returned to Vienna with his family, to become Political Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was the Austrian ambassador to the USSR from 1964. Under Federal Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, Wodak became General Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1970. He was instrumental in the founding of the International Institute for Applied System Analysis in Laxenburg, whose women’s committee counted Erna Wodak among its most active members. After Walter Wodak passed away, Erna Wodak resumed her scientific activity in the chemical industry with the Jungbunzlauer group, where she worked in research and development, patent audit, product documentation and research in specialised literature.

She was a pioneer of Austrian – Israeli scientific cooperation, mainly by initiating numerous research projects for the Austrian society of the Friends of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. In 1998 she was elected First Vice-president of the IIASA society.

Lit.: KUSCHEY 2008, information of Heimo Gruber, Ruth Wodak and  John Wodak; IIASAKNIEFACZ/POSCH 2017b; KNIEFACZ/POSCH 2017c.


Herbert Posch


Nationale of Erna Mandel, fall term 1937/38 (1st form front), Photo: H. Posch (c) Universitätsarchiv WienNationale of Erna Mandel, fall term...
Nationale of Erna Mandel, fall term 1937/38 (1st form back), Photo: H. Posch (c) Universitätsarchiv WienNationale of Erna Mandel, fall term...
Erna Mandel-Wodak (1916-2003), student-ID, (c) VGA, estate Walter WodakErna Mandel-Wodak (1916-2003), stud...
Erna Mandel-Wodak (1916-2003), (c) VGA, estate Walter WodakErna Mandel-Wodak (1916-2003), (c) ...

zuletzt aktualisiert am 14.01.2017

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