He received his earliest education in the gymnasium of his native town, and in 1880 entered the University of Vienna, receiving the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1886. In 1888 he went to Oxford, where until 1892 he assisted Max Müller in the preparation of the second edition of the Rig-Veda (4 vols., Oxford, 1890-92), collating manuscripts and deciding on the adoption of many new readings. Winternitz remained in Oxford until 1898, acting in various educational capacities, such as German lecturer to the Association for Promoting the Higher Education of Women (1891-98), librarian of the Indian Institute at Oxford (1895), and frequently as examiner in German and Sanskrit both for the university and for the Indian Civil Service.
In 1899 he went to Prague as privatdozent for Indology and general ethnology, and in 1902 was appointed to the professorship of Sanskrit (made vacant by the retirement of Ludwig) and of ethnology at the German University in Prague. The Winternitz family were friendly with Albert Einstein, when he was in Prague around 1911.
In addition to valuable contributions on Sanskrit and ethnology to various scientific journals, Winternitz edited the Apastambiya Gṛihyasutra (Vienna, 1887) and the Mantrapaṭha, or the Prayer-Book of the Apastambins (part i, Oxford, 1897); translated Müller's Anthropological Religion and his Theosophy, or Psychological Religion into German (Leipzig, 1894-95); and published Das Altindische Hochzeitsrituell (Vienna, 1892), which also contains valuable ethnological material; A Catalogue of South Indian Manuscripts Belonging to the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (London, 1902); and Geschichte der Indischen Literatur (part i, Leipzig, 1905).
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901–1906.