Deported and forgotten – Henriette Burchardt

Jewish women scientists in Vienna

Henriette Burchardt was a scientist in Vienna. Known also as “Henny”, Burchardt worked at the Institute for Experimental Biology in Vienna from 1924 to 1932. On October 23, 1944, Henriette Burchardt was deported to the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. She did not survive. Her date of death remains unknown.

Deported and forgotten – Henriette Burchardt studied limb regeneration

Henriette Burchardt was born in Vienna on October 1, 1902. From 1913 to 1921, Henriette attended high school, graduating in 1921. In the fall of 1921, Henriette Burchardt enrolled at the University of Vienna, where she studied natural sciences. In 1923, she temporarily moved to the Julius Maximilian University of Wurzburg. From 1924 to 1929, Henriette Burchardt worked in the zoology department of Hans Przibram at the Institute for Experimental Biology (BVA), as part of her dissertation project. In 1929, Burchardt received her PhD from the University of Vienna, for her dissertation on “The Symmetry of Regenerates from Limbs Pinned through the Urodelian Body.” Afterwards, Henriette Burchardt continued working as a researcher at the BVA until 1932.

Henriette Burchardt studied how limbs regenerate. Some animals, such as axolotls and newts, are able to regrow limbs (at least partially). In her dissertation, Burchardt wanted to know whether it is possible to regrow both ends of a cut limb – but found that only one end can regrow. In another study, Henriette Burchardt looked into how the seminal vesicles regulate secretion.

After the “Anschluss”, the union of Austria with Nazi Germany, Henriette Burchardt was persecuted. Henriette Burchardt taught at a Jewish school in the Kleine Sperlgasse in Vienna’s second district, where she was also the first administrative substitute for headmaster Jakob Moses Weiss. Two other Jewish scientists who had previously worked at the Institute for Experimental Biology, Leonore Brecher and Helene Jacobi, were also teachers at the school. The last known address for Henriette Burchardt is Müllnergasse 5, in Vienna’s 9th district.

On September 24, 1942 Henriette Burchardt and her mother Elsa Maria Burchhardt (nee Steiner) were deported to Ghetto Theresienstadt, where her mother died in 1942. On October 23, 1944, Henriette Burchardt was deported to the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. She did not survive. The exact date of Henriette Burchardt’s murder remains unknown.

  • postcard, showing the Vivarium
  • Plaque remembering the Institute for Experimental Biology.
  • streetsign saying "Vivariumstraße"
  • street sign "Müllnergasse 5"
  • House in Müllnergasse
  • School
  • Commemorative plaque

Selected studies

  • Henriette Burchardt, Regeneration und Symmetrie durch den Urodelenkörper gesteckter Gliedmassen, in: Wilhelm Roux’ Archiv für Entwicklungsmechanik der Organismen 122, 2 (1930), 230–236.
  • Henriette Burchardt, Regulierung der sekretorischen Tätigkeit der Samenblasen, in: Pflüger’s Archiv für die gesamte Physiologie des Menschen und der Tiere 228, 1 (1931), 614–618.

Further information

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