Elise Richter

Elise Richter ( Vienna , 2 March as as 1865 – 21 as June as 1943 ) was a philologist Austrian . She was one of the first women to obtain a doctorate in the University of Vienna , and was the only woman who held an academic position in an Austrian university before the First World War . She was a professor of Romance languages ​​in her alma mater until 1938, and made important academic contributions to the field of historical and comparative linguistics.

She was murdered by the Nazis in the Terezín concentration camp (in the present Czech Republic ).


She was the youngest of the three daughters of Maximilian Richter (doctor, 1891) and his wife Emelie or Emilie (housewife, 1889). Elise and her only surviving sister, Helene (1861-1942, who would be a writer and translator of English literature and theater), received all of her schooling at home with a Prussian governess , who taught them German, French and English, as well as history and geography. Like many other girls growing up in middle-class, middle-class homes in Vienna, Richter’s daughters were exposed to art, music and theater from a young age and cultural activities continued to play a significant role in their lives. Although they had Jewish ancestry, the family was not affiliated with any religious community. Elise and her sister attended Catholic religious services from time to time, but never went to the synagogue. However they were not baptized, and were officially registered as konfessions-them (which does not belong to any denomination).

Elise studied philosophy in the University of Vienna, and doctoró in 1901.
In 1905 she was the first woman to receive the qualification to work in Romance languages . In 1907 she became the first female teacher (assistant teacher), and was appointed an extraordinary teacher in 1921. She was never allowed to obtain an ordinary chair. From 1920 he presided over the Austria Verband der Akademikerinnen Österreichs (Austrian Association of Academics of Austria).

She continued to work at the University of Vienna and was not forced to retire when she reached retirement age. In 1938, after the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria as a province of Nazi Germany) the anti- Semitic policies in Austria were hardened, which excluded people of Jewish origin from public life. Richter was fired from his post.

On October 9, 1942, she and her sister Helene – who lived with her – were deported to the concentration camp at Terezin (in the present Czech Republic), on a long train journey. Both sisters were victims of the Holocaust : Helene Richter died a month later, in November 1942 (at 81), and Elise Richter died there seven months later, the 21 of June of 1943 (at 78 years of age) Of unknown causes. 1

In her honor, there is now the Elise Richter Program of the FWF (Austrian Science Fund), which provides support to women studying the university professorship.


  1. Back to top↑ «Elise Richter (1865-1943)» , article on the Jewish Women encyclopedia website.