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  ...

Isak Wurman

  • Born: 12-21-1909
  • Faculty: Faculty of Philosophy
  • Category: expelled student

Isak WURMAN, born on December 21st, 1909 in Nadwórna, Galicia/Austro-Hungarian Empire [later: Poland, today: Nadvirna|Надвірна/Ukraine] (entitled residency ("heimatberechtigt") for Buczacz/Poland [Butschatsch|Бучач/Ukraine], Citizenship: Poland), son of Josef Wurman (shochet, butcher, b. June 16th, 1880 in Buczacz/Poland), lived in Vienna's 2nd district, Hammer-Purgstall-Gasse 4/9.
He had dropped out of the Gymnasium as a youth - despite good results and although he had initially also taken afternoon classes at the Jewish Zwi Perez Chajes Gymnasium on Hebrew language and culture - in order to prepare for the Aliyah, the emigration to Palestine [Israel], and worked in various factories to acquire practical knowledge and was a member of "Mizrachi". After the temporary failure of this plan for family reasons, at the age of 22 he decided to continue his secondary education and in 1934/35. He passed the school-leaving examination (Reifepruefung/Matura) with distinction at the Bundesrealgymnasium in Vienna's 14th district (Dieffenbachgasse) and subsequently began to study at the University of Vienna from the fall term of 1934/35 (with a break in spring term 1935), taking main courses in Oriental studies (Hebrew, Arabic and Syrian languages), history and economics, but also courses in philosophy, psychology, mathematics and statistics. Along the way he gave Hebrew lessons himself. He was enrolled finally in the fall term 1937/38 at the Philosophical School in the 3rd year of his studies and took courses in history and philosophy (Leaving Certificate ('Abgangszeugnis') was issued on May 10th, 1938)

In 1938, after the takeover of power of National-Socialism he was forced to quit his studies for racist reason and to leave the University of Vienna.

Bilha Shilo, in her research on student applications to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, noted that Isak Wurman was still able to escape from Vienna in time and emigrate to neutral Belgium, which seemed to be a safe country for the time being. He resumed his original life plan to emigrate to Palestine and, starting in January 1940, tried to be admitted to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and legally enter the British Mandate territory of Palestine [Israel] with one of the coveted student certificates. However, in addition to achieving his original life plan, Aliyah, and the desire to continue and complete his studies, there was also an increasing need to escape the increasingly threatening persecutions. At the beginning of May he was admitted to study, although he was already well over the designated age limit. His sister Hiude Wuhrmann, who had been able to flee to Buenos Aires/Argentina, was also able to transfer the required bail and fees, but a few days before the proceedings could be completed, Wurman had to flee again from the German occupation of Belgium in May 1940 in order to survive and was able to escape in time to southern France, from where he pleaded urgently in mid-May for completion of his admission to the university and entry into Palestine, which by now had become a matter of immediate survival. The Hebrew University also urged accordingly, but the British Consulate in Paris refused Wurman. After France's surrender, the case seemed utterly hopeless. But Wurman was able to escape with his 60-year-old father in early July on the British evacuation ship MS Apapa from Port-Vendres/France directly on the French-Spanish border, to Liverpool, England/Great Britain, and again urged from London his admission and in September 1940 the British Mandate Government was ready to reissue his certificate and allowed him to go to Palestine and to study at the Hebrew University.

In May 1941, however, he and his father were registered and interned in Great Britain as enemy aliens, but were released after only five days on May 29th, 1941 as "special case: non enemy". Later, both lived in London 15, Hillside Road 29, and in October 1946 and November 1947, still stateless, made business trips of several months to New York, NY/USA and Miami, FL/USA (as profession Isak Wurman stated: leather manufacturer).

Little is known about his further life: presumably he later moved to the USA, became a U.S. citizen in 1955 and lived initially in Philadelphia, PA/USA, later in Brooklyn, NY/USA and presumably died there in 2005.

Lit.: Archive of the University of Vienna/enrollment forms ("Nationale") PHIL 1934-1938; Social Security Administration Washington D.C., USA / Social Security Death Index; The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England / Board of Trade / Commercial and Statistical Department / Inwards Passenger Lists / BT26 / 1189, The National Archives of the UK, Kew, London, England / HO 396 / 282 WW2 Internees (Aliens) Index Cards; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) / New York / lists of incoming passanger 1820-1957, NARA / Washington, D.C. / Indexes to Naturalization Petitions for United States District Courts, Connecticut, 1851-1992 (M2081);; POSCH/INGRISCH/DRESSEL 2008, 502; Bilha SHILO, Student or Refugee? Isak Wurman's application to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2019.

Herbert Posch


Nationale of Isak Wurman, fall term 1937/38 (1st form front), Photo: H. Posch (c) Universitätsarchiv WienNationale of Isak Wurman, fall term...
Nationale of Isak Wurman, fall term 1937/38 (1st form back), Photo: H. Posch (c) Universitätsarchiv WienNationale of Isak Wurman, fall term...
Nationale of Isak Wurman, fall term 1937/38 (2nd form front), Photo: H. Posch (c) Universitätsarchiv WienNationale of Isak Wurman, fall term...
Nationale of Isak Wurman, fall term 1937/38 (2nd form back), Photo: H. Posch (c) Universitätsarchiv WienNationale of Isak Wurman, fall term...

zuletzt aktualisiert am 13.09.2021

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