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Biography of Eugenie Schwarzwald


Eugenie Schwarzwald, Frau Dr. Schwarzwald, Frau Doktor, Genia Schwarzwald, Genia, Genka. Born Eugenie Nussbaum on 4 July 1872 in a village in East Galicia, Schwarzwald made more than one name for herself as a reform pedagogue, journalist, social worker, and patron of the arts. To her friends and contemporaries she was Genia, a female genius, to her husband, Genka (a Slavonic diminutive), and for many generations of pupils and protégés she was ‘Frau Doktor’ or simply ‘Fr. Dr.’. Her public persona, whether in person or in print, was always Frau Dr. Phil. Eugenie Schwarzwald: as the Habsburg authorities consistently refused to recognize her doctorate, which she was awarded in Switzerland, it was both a rebellious and a strategic act on her part to use the title as frequently as possible. Alongside her pedagogical activities – she founded the first co-educational state school in Austria and a girls’ school where one could study for the Matura (Higher School Certificate) – it was her social projects that made her a name in Vienna. She was adept at using the media to her advantage, but the literary figures of her time were equally adept at satirizing her, often in an anti-Semitic or misogynistic way. Even though she was closely connected to figures of Viennese modernism, she was neither patron nor muse in a conventional sense. Her own biography and motives were long overshadowed by famous friends such as Egon Friedell, Hans Kelsen, Oskar Kokoschka, Adolf Loos, Arnold Schönberg, and by her similarly famous school pupils such as Peter Drucker, Rudolf Serkin, Hilde Spiel, and Helene Weigel.

The biography of Eugenie Schwarzwald, published in 2012 by Residenz Verlag, opens new perspectives on the often contradictory and dynamic Viennese culture of the early 20th century. An exhibition is planned on Eugenie Schwarzwald, her projects, her schools, and her pupils.

Contact: Deborah Holmes


Langeweile ist Gift
Das Leben der Eugenie Schwarzwald

Deborah Holmes:  Langeweile ist Gift. Das Leben der Eugenie Schwarzwald. St. Pölten, Salzburg, Wien: Residenz 2012.