Titles lost in Nazi Vienna restored

April 9, 2004

Thirty-two Vienna University academics stripped of their titles by the Nazis have officially received posthumous recognition of their achievements more than 60 years later.

The 32 are among more than 200 Vienna graduates whose titles were revoked for political or racial reasons. Although most won their status back at the end of the war, 32, including several famous names, were overlooked.

A recent search through university archives by modern history students turned up the list of graduates dating back to 1941 who never officially had their masters or doctorates restored. Among them is Stefan Zweig, the Austrian writer whose PhD was revoked because of his political opinions and Jewish ancestry. Zweig was forced into exile by the Nazis, and in 1938 he took British citizenship. He died in 1942.

Alfons Rothschild, from the famous Rothschild family, is also on the list, as well as Bruno Bettelheim, the celebrated psychoanalyst. Bettelheim studied under Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, but fled his homeland in 1939 after a short period in the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps. In the US, he achieved fame after pioneering a controversial theory on autism that blamed maternal indifference for the condition.

The university last week held a memorial ceremony for the 32 to recognise their achievements.

It said: "The university concedes without reserve that it is to share the blame and responsibility for this inhuman and illegal act of iniquity during the Nazi era."

Cornelia Blum, spokeswoman for the dean's office, added: "It is also important to us to show the younger generations that we do deal with this subject and do not simply sweep the past under the carpet."

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