Viktor Kornmehl & Sigmund Freud’s High School

Viktor Kornmehl & Sigmund Freud’s High School

I’ve been circling around Viktor Kornmehl, the intended subject of this second part of this family history writing challenge, for a while now. I first looked at his mother, Kamilla, who was buried in a group crypt, married in a synagogue that was later destroyed, and misidentified in a picture; and then at his brother, Bertschi, who helped organize Zionist transports to Israel.

I did mention that Viktor took part with Bertschi in an arborial memorial to the aforementioned Kamilla, which led to yesterday’s leafy digression.

Today, however, I am turning to Viktor and his education. This post also leads back to Sigmund Freud, who was the reason for investigating the Doktors Kornmehl, Ezriel and Viktor, in the first place, and who will re-enter Viktor’s story again soon. The more exciting part is that I may have discovered a link between Viktor Kornmehl and another, more famous, Viktor along the way.

Vital Statistics

University of Vienna -- far more impressive than the high school named for Sigmund Freud

University of Vienna — far more impressive than the high school named for Sigmund Freud

According to Viktor Kornmehl’s’s academic records from the University of Vienna:

  • He was born Avigdor Kornmehl on born June, 16th 1908 in Vienna to the merchant Ferdinand Kornmehl and Kamilla Bergmann Kornmehl.
  • He finished high school (“Realgymnasium II”) in the 2nd district, Kleine Sperlgasse. While he was attending school, he lived at his father’s home in the 2nd district in Glockengasse 14, number 12.
  • He studied medicine at the University of Vienna from October 1926 to June 1931. He got a certificate of completion (“Absolutorium”) on March 23rd 1931. He got his medical degree on May 20th 1932.

What a Gymnasium Education Means

According to Wikipedia, in most of Europe a gymnasium is a secondary school that prepares a student for a university education (what would have once been called a high school that’s on an academic track, rather than one that was trade oriented).


In Austria the Gymnasium has two stages, from the age of 11 to 14, and from 15 to 18, concluding with Matura [matriculation] Historically, three types existed. The Humanistisches Gymnasium focuses on Ancient Greek and Latin. The Neusprachliches Gymnasium puts its focus on actively spoken languages. The Realgymnasium puts its focus on science.

So the reference in his records to Realgymnasium II meant that Viktor would have been in the second phase of his Realgymnasium — science-oriented secondary school or high school. Assuming he attended high school directly before the University of Vienna, the years would have been roughly 1923 (when Viktor was 15) to 1926.

Viktor Kornmehl &  Sigmund Freud’s High School

There’s a lot of information available about the University of Vienna, which both Viktor Kornmehl and Sigmund Freud attended, Freud from 1873 to 1881. We wouldn’t know much about Viktor’s high school except for one thing: Sigmund Freud went there too.

The following details are from the Gale History of Psychoanalysis and from the history of the school that became Sigmund Freud Gymnasium.

In 1865, after being home-schooled and studying at a private elementary school, Freud enrolled in the first class of the newly constructed Leopoldstädter Kommunalrealgymnasium. He took longer than usual to finish (8 years) but graduated with honors in 1873 (though he did better in the liberal arts subjects than in science).

Here’s a copy of Freud’s Matura (final exams certificate):

Freud's Matura Protokoll

The gymnasium that Freud attended went through a lot of changes..

In 1877 it moved into the Kleine Sperlgasse (which is where it was when Viktor Kornmehl attended). In 1896 it was acquired by the state; in 1901, it was renamed Archduke Rainer Realgymnasium.

Freud contributed to the school’s fiftieth anniversary celebration in 1914 with an article, “Some Reflections on Schoolboy Psychology,” that appeared in the commemorative brochure.

Sigmund-Freud-Gymnasium_03_In 1937, 77.5% of the students at the school were Jewish. In 1939 none were.

In 1946 the school moved to the Vereinsgasse.

In 1967 it moved to its current location at Wohlmutstraße 3 (ah, 1960s architecture. Sorry, but that building is really ugly).

Girls were first admitted in 1971.

For the fiftieth anniversary of Freud’s death in 1989, it was renamed the Sigmund Freud Gymnasium.

As I noted, Viktor probably graduated from gymnasium in 1926, but would have likely been at the school in 1924 — which is when another Viktor, who is also famous in psychology and admired Sigmund Freud, graduated. And that’s all I’ll give away until tomorrow.

This is day 18 of the Family History Writing Challenge. Woo-hoo — only 10 more to go!

3 Responses to Viktor Kornmehl & Sigmund Freud’s High School

  1. Lydia Davis says:

    Interesting stuff, especially imagining Freud as a schoolboy, more gifted in the arts than the sciences. And so much apparently happened on Kleine Sperlgasse–not only Viktor’s schooling at the gymnasium but also, earlier, it was the home of the “other” doctor you’ve been researching, Ezriel, and his father (and probably mother too). And I think it was not far away, in Grosse Sperlgasse, that your mother lived before she emigrated to the U.S. That neighborhood is so full of history…

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      I make didn’t make those neighborhood connections, including with my mother — fascinating! One of these days (before I go to Vienna), I’ll have to map it all out.

  2. […] and another, more famous, Viktor along the way.” This teaser appeared in Edie’s post entitled Viktor Kornmehl and Sigmund Freud’s High School. That other Viktor was Viktor Frankl, who in 1946 published Man’s Search for Meaning, his […]

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