Elise Richter

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Elise Richter.

Elise Richter (March 2, 1865 – June 23, 1943) was a Viennese philologist and the only woman at any Austrian university, pre-World War I, to hold an academic appointment. Persecuted by Nazi officials during World War II, she was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia in October 1942, and died there in June 1943.[1][2]

Life[edit]

Born in Vienna, Austria on March 2, 1865 to a middle-class Jewish family, Elise Richter was the daughter of Emelie Richter and Viennese physician Maximilian Richter, M.D., and sister of Helene Richter, who wrote about and translated English literature and drama.[3] The two women grew closer, following the deaths of their mother and father, respectively, in 1889 and 1891. Traveling together, they also encouraged each other to continue their respective academic pursuits.[4]

Initially educated with her two sisters at home by the family's Prussian governess and then via university courses which she and her sister, Helene, audited during the 1890s, Elise Richter then enrolled at the University of Vienna as a Romance philology student under Adolph Mussafia and Wilhelm Meyer-Lubke, and then became one of the first women ever to be awarded a Doctorate from that university in 1901. That degree was awarded summa cum laude. Four years later, she became the first woman to receive the Habilitation for her work on Romance languages. In 1907, she became the first female Dozent (or assistant professor) and, in 1921, became the first women in Austria to be appointed as an "Extra-Ordinary Professor" (untenured),[5] although she never received an Ordinary Professorship. Beginning in 1920, she chaired the Association of Austrian Academic Women (Verband der Akademikerinnen Österreichs).

In 1922, Elise Richter founded the Austrian Federation of University Women.[6]

After the Anschluss, and the introduction of Nazi anti-semitic policies in Austria, which excluded people of Jewish origin from public life, Richter was denied access to the university's library, dismissed from her post, denied pension support in her old age, and prohibited from visiting museums and other cultural institutions. In addition, her personal library, which held 3,000 items,[7] and other possessions were confiscated. She and her sister, Helene, who lived with her, were then deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp on October 9, 1942 on Transport IV/13, number 598. Helene was 81 when she died there on November 8, 1942. Elise was 78 when she died there on June 21, 1943.[8][9][10]

The Elise Richter Program of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), which provides support for women studying towards a career as a professor, is named in her honour.

Health problems[edit]

Elise Richter developed rheumatoid arthritis as a young woman, and was confined to bed for a year during her early 20s.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Friedenreich, Harriet. "Elise Richter 1865-1943", in Encyclopedia. Brookline, Massachusetts: Jewish Women's Archive, retrieved online September 1, 2018.
  2. ^ Kniefacz, Katharina and Herbert Posch. "Elise Richter", in Gedenkbuch für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus an der Universität Wien 1938. Vienna, Austria: University of Vienna, retrieved online September 1, 2018.
  3. ^ "Elise Richter 1865-1943", in Encyclopedia, Jewish Women's Archive.
  4. ^ Chance, Jane, ed., and Elizabeth Shipley. Women Medievalists and the Academy, pp. 79-90. Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press.
  5. ^ "Elise Richter 1865-1943", in Encyclopedia, Jewish Women's Archive.
  6. ^ Chance and Shipley, Women Medievalists and the Academy, p. 82.
  7. ^ "Elise Richter", in "Gedenkbuch für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus an der Universität Wien 1938", University of Vienna.
  8. ^ "Dr. Elise Richter", in "Database of Victims: Holocaust". Prague, Czechoslovakia: Jewish Museum of Prague, retrieved online September 1, 2018.
  9. ^ "Elise Richter 1865-1943", in Encyclopedia, Jewish Women's Archive.
  10. ^ Chance and Shipley, Women Medievalists and the Academy, p. 82.
  11. ^ Chance and Shipley. Women Medievalists and the Academy, p. 81.

External links[edit]