Ellen Preis

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Ellen Preis
Ellen Preis 1983 Paraguay stamp.jpg
Personal information
Born6 May 1912
Charlottenburg, Berlin, Germany
Died18 November 2007 (aged 95)
Vienna, Austria
ClubFechtsaal Werdnik, Wien
Union Fechtclub, Wien

Ellen Müller-Preis, née Preis, (6 May 1912 – 18 November 2007) was German-born Austrian Olympic-champion foil fencer.[1]

In 1949, she was named Austrian female athlete of the year.[2]

Fencing career[edit]

Preis was born in Berlin, and was Jewish.[3][4][5] She moved to Vienna at the age of 18 in 1930, and began receiving fencing instruction from her aunt.[6][7] In under two years she came in third in the European Championships in Vienna.[6] She later married Dr. Müller and had two sons and a daughter, who died from whooping cough.

World and National Championships[edit]

She won three world championships (1947, 1949, and 1950)[8] and numerous national Austrian titles (17).[6] In 1949 Müller-Preis was named the first ever "Austrian Female Athlete of the Year."

At one point, Prof. Müller-Preis was credited in the Guinness Book of World Records as the female with the longest Olympic span of any woman, competing from 1932 until 1956. The record has since been broken. Two Olympic Games were cancelled at that time due to World War II, 1940 and 1944.


Preis (left) at the 1936 Summer Olympics

As a German/Austrian dual citizen, she wanted to fence for Germany in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics but was rejected by the German Federation.[6] She then fenced in those Olympics for Austria, beating Heather "Judy" Guinness of England for the gold medal.[6] At both the 1936 Berlin Olympics and the 1948 London Olympics, she won bronze medals.[6]

In the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Preis was one of a number of Jewish athletes who won medals.[9][10][11][12][13] In the individual women's foil competition, all three medals were won by Jewish women who are counted among the greatest women fencers of the 20th century. Ilona Elek, known also as Ilona Elek-Schacherer, from Hungary won gold. Elek defeated a German with a Jewish father, Helene Mayer, gold medalist at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, one of only two Jews allowed to compete for Germany by the Nazis, who admitted her under threat of boycott by the US. Mayer caused controversy by giving the Nazi salute on the medal stand while accepting the silver medal.[14]

In 1956, at the age of 44, Preis reached the final round at the Melbourne Olympics and came in seventh.[6]

Later life[edit]

After retiring from fencing, she was Professor Emeritus of the Universität für Musik and darstellende Kunst (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna) in Vienna, taught at the Max Reinhardt Seminar, and coached at the Openstudio of the Vienna Staatsoper and the Burgtheater.[7] She worked as a consultant, ensuring that fencing performed in plays was properly done.[1][15]

Ellen Müller-Preis died on 18 November 2007, in Vienna of kidney failure.[16][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ellen Preis Olympic Results". sports-reference.com. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  2. ^ "The New York Times". International Herald Tribune. 29 March 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of Modern Jewish Culture
  4. ^ Jews in the Gym: Judaism, Sports, and Athletics
  5. ^ Scottish Daily Mail: 2012-05-03 - "Hitler’s Jewish Olympians"
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Ellen Müller-Preis Bio, Stats, and Results | Olympics at Sports-Reference.com
  7. ^ a b c "Ellen Mueller-Preis, 95; won gold, bronze medals in fencing at three Olympics" - latimes
  8. ^ Evangelista, Nick (1995). The encyclopedia of the sword. Greenwood Publishing Group. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  9. ^ "The Nazi Olympics (Berlin 1936)—Jewish Athletes; Olympic Medalists". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Ellen Mueller-Preis, 1932 Olympic fencing champion, dies at 95". AP Worldstream. 19 November 2007. Archived from the original on 21 September 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  11. ^ Greenspoon, Leonard (2012). Jews in the Gym: Judaism, Sports, and Athletics. Purdue University Press.
  12. ^ Stent, Gunther Siegmund (1998). Nazis, Women and Molecular Biologie: Memoirs of a Lucky Self-hater.
  13. ^ Large, David Clay (2007). Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936. W. W. Norton & Company.
  14. ^ Mogulof, Milly (2002) Foiled, Hitler's Jewish Olympian. RDR Books. ISBN 157143092X. p. 157.
  15. ^ "Affiliated artists: Professor Ellen Müller-Preis". Magic Flutes International. Archived from the original on 3 October 2006. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  16. ^ "Sports briefs". Star Tribune. 19 November 2007. Archived from the original on 22 November 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2010.

External links[edit]