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  ...


Richard Wasicky

  • Born: 02-06-1884
  • Faculty: Faculty of Medicine
  • Category: expelled teacher, deprivation of academic degree

Richard WASICKY (born on February 6th, 1884 in Teschen, Silesia [Cieszyn, Poland], died on August 10th, 1970 in Sao Paulo/Brasilia) was full professor (o. Prof.) of Pharmacognostics at the Medical School of the University of Vienna.

He was persecuted in times of Nazism for racist reason, lost his position and was thrown out of the university on April 22nd, 1938.

Wasicky had graduated at the Philosophical School in pharmaceutics ('Mag. pharm.') on July 21st, 1906, and later at the Medical School at the University of Vienna on December 23rd, 1911 with the academic degree 'Dr. med.'.

He was deprived of his academic degrees on September 7th, 1942 with the racist argument, that he as a Jew was not considered dignified an academic degree of a german university ('eines akademischen Grades einer deutschen Hochschule unwürdig').

It took 66 years since the deprivation – and a very long time since the end of Nazism – until the regranting of the doctorate took finally place in 2008/09.

Wasicky, the son of a railroad employee, attended the Albrecht secondary school in Teschen in Silesia[1] and then studied pharmaceutics at the University of Vienna. He obtained his diploma in 1906 and subsequently began studying medicine. In 1911 he received his doctoral degree. Three years later he habilitated for pharmacology, after which he became an associate professor and chairman of the pharmacognostical institute in 1920 and then a full professor in 1921.[2] From 1924 until 1926 he was dean of the medical faculty.[3] During his work at the University of Vienna he declined calls to professorships for pharmacology and pharmacognosy in Belgrade (1921)[4] as well as to a professorship for pharmacognosy in Lviv.[5]

After Austria’s “Anschluss” to the German Reich - the ministry of education suspended him as of April 22nd, 1938[6] - Wasicky emigrated to Switzerland in 1938 and from there to Paris. According to “Vertriebene Pharmazie”,[7] he did not make this decision “due to a potential Jewish heritage”, Mühlberger, however, posits that Wasicky was forcibly retired for “racial” reasons.[8] According to Prof. Dr. Frank Leimkugel Richard Wasicky probably fled because of the descent of his wife Marianne (nee Joachimovits) - her brother, the lecturer Robert Joachimovits also lost his position at the University of Vienna in 1938.[8a] In Paris, Wasicky founded the exile organization “L’Association pour la liberation d L’Autriche”, which wanted to influence the political situation in Austria. When these efforts failed, he tried to found an “Office Autrichien” in the framework of the “Aktion Wasicky”. These plans did not come to fruition. He was, however, responsible for the publication of the journal “Freies Österreich - La libre Autriche”, whose first issue was published in May 1940 and in which also Julius Deutsch and Franz Werfel, among others, wrote articles.[9]

In 1941 Wasicky accepted a call to the University of Sao Paolo, where he acted as head of the institute and professor for experimental pharmacognosy at the faculty for odontology and pharmaceutics, as well as heading the institute for pharmacognosy.[10] During the war he had to work on the pharmacological analysis of insecticides and molluscicides.[11] He did not return to Vienna after the end of the war, even though he had signaled his willingness.[12] Beginning in 1954 he worked as professor and director of the institute for biochemistry at the University of Rio Grande do Sul in Santa Maria.[13] In that same year - Wasicky turned 70 years old - the University of Vienna conferred him with an honorary doctorate for philosophy, which he himself thought to be “one of the highest academic honors in all cultural circles of our planet”.[14]

In his studies, Wasicky mainly dedicated himself to insecticides, rodenticides, Brazilian medicinal plants and poisonous plants as well as the biological analysis of medicinal substances.[15] His most important work is considered to be the “Lehrbuch der Physiopharmakognosie” (2 volumes, 1929-32).[16]

Wasicky had an honorary doctorate of the Sorbonne (1937), was bearer of the Gold Hanbury Medal for original research in the natural history and chemistry of drugs (1937),[17] and the Decoration of Honor for Science and Art.[18] He also was an honorary member of the Society of Doctors in Vienna and Officer de la Legion d’honeur as well as Officer de la Sante publique (1949).[19] Before the “Anschluss” he had been chairman of the Medicinal Plant Committee of the state and a full member of the Oberster Sanitätsrat (Supreme Medical Council).[20]

Lit.: MÜHLBERGER 1993, 36; MERINSKY 1980, 277-279; POSCH 2009, 215-217; UB MedUni Wien/van Swieten Blog. Information from Prof. Dr. Frank Leimkugel, Duesseldorf/Germany, 2014; Austrian State Archive/AVA, PA Wasicky; Archive of the University of Vienna/MED PA 542, MED PA 3669, RA GZ 677 ex 1937/38; KILLY/VIERHAUS 1995-2000, Vol. 10 1999; KOSIK 1935; Frank LEIMKUGEL, Wolf-Dieter MÜLLER-JAHNCKE, Vertriebene Pharmazie. Wissenstransfer durch deutsche und österreichisch-ungarische Apotheker nach 1933, Stuttgart 1999; PLANER 1929ROEDER Vol. 2 1983.

[1] ÖStA/AVA, PA, k. k. Min. f. Kultus u. Unterricht GZ 36.801-1914, Vermerk, o. D.

[3] Frank Leimkugel/Wolf-Dieter Müller-Jahncke, Vertriebene Pharmazie. Wissenstransfer durch deutsche und österreichisch-ungarische Apotheker nach 1933, Stuttgart 1999.

[4] Vgl. hierzu ÖStA/AVA, PA, BM f. I. u. U. GZ 21.161-1921.

[5] UA, MED PA 542, fol. 3, Personalangabe, o. D.

[6] UA, RA GZ 677-1937/38, O.-Nr. 62, Min. f. i. u. k. A. an Rektorat, 22. 4. 1938.

[7] Leimkugel/Müller-Jahncke, Pharmazie.

[8a] information from Prof. Dr. Frank Leimkugel, Duesseldorf/Germany, to the editors of the "Memorial Book for the Victims of National Socialism at the University of Vienna in 1938", 2014.

[9] Leimkugel/Müller-Jahncke, Pharmazie.

[10] UA, MED PA 3669, fol. 16, Pharmakognostisches Institut/Fuchs an Professorenkollegium der philosophischen Fakultät, 17. 10. 1953.

[11] Leimkugel/Müller-Jahncke, Pharmazie.

[12] Vgl. UA, MED PA 3669, fol. 23, PHIL Dekanat an Wasicky, 5. 12. 1946; fol. 28, PHIL Dekanat an MED Dekanat, 17. 10. 1946.

[13] KILLY/VIERHAUS Vol. 10 1999. Laut "Vertriebene Pharmazie" übernahm er im Alter von 75. Jahren [d. h. 1959 oder 1960] die Leitung eines Zentrums für biochemische Forschung in Santa Maria, das er 1961 in ein Universitätsinstitut überführte. Vgl. Leimkugel/Müller-Jahncke, Pharmazie.

[14] UA, MED PA 3669, fol. 2, Wasicky an MED Dekanat, 10. 2. 1954.

[15] Kürschners deutscher Gelehrtenkalender. Bio-bibliographisches Verzeichnis deutschsprachiger Wissenschaftler der Gegenwart. Bd. 7, München 1950.

[17] Ebd., fol. 11, Kommissionsbericht zur Sitzung am 17. 11. 1953 (Verleihung des Ehrendoktorates an Wasicky).

[19] UA, MED PA 542, fol. 1, MED Dekanat an [Empfänger nicht angeführt], 23. 4. 1953.


Andreas Huber (translated by Thomas Rennert)

zuletzt aktualisiert am 17.07.2019

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