Oral History Interviews

Interviews that offer unique insights into the lives, works, and personalities of modern scientists

Leopold Halpern on the working relationship of Marietta Blau and Hertha Wambacher.

Oral history audio excerpt

Leopold Halpern on the working relationship of Marietta Blau and Hertha Wambacher.

Rentetzi:

How was the relationship between them when Blau and Wambacher worked together? Blau knew that Wambacher was Nazi?

Halpern:

Yes she did.

Rentetzi:

It sounds strange that —

Halpern:

Not only did she know this, she also knew that Stetter wanted her to leave the Institute as soon as possible and give all the fame for the work to Wambacher. She knew this. She somehow at this time, you see, the women were much more used to not to be treated fairly, and she somehow accepted this. Of course, she would have been glad if it had not been so, but she somehow thought she couldn’t do anything. Now, I must tell you one interesting incident that Marietta Blau confided to me then. She, after years of successful work at the Radium Institute in Vienna when her work was already internationally known, asked if she could have any kind of even the lowest paid position. She asked the professor whose name she told me, but because I didn’t attribute much importance to that when she told this to me; I did not try to remember that name. Now, later it became clear to me how interesting this actually was and I wanted by all means to recover the name. As good as I can do, this was Gustav Jäger, this professor, whom she asked, could she not finally get any position which would pay anything. Now, Jäger, I am told, was also a German National but not an anti-Semitic. You see, this existed also, a German National and anti-Semitism was not necessarily mutually exclusive. Most of the German Nationalist had certain anti-Semitic tendencies from severe to mild, but not all. So, Jäger was married to Jew, his wife was Jewish. All right, this is just a bit of controversy that I know about Jäger, and she asked Jäger if she could not get a position and he said to her, not perhaps in order to frustrate her, but just to explain her situation, you know, you are a women and a Jew, and this is too much. I will not be able to get you a position at the Radium Institute.