Memories of my Fulbright in Vienna – Jerry Rosenberg – Austria 1955

After completing an internship at the University of Minnesota Hospital in June,1955 I married Corliss, who had been a nursing student while I was a medical student, and spent the summer in Wisconsin Dells where I had a locum tenens as a GP. We left for Austria in September, 1955 where I was to begin my Fulbright Fellowship in Pathology at the “Institut fur Pathologie” at the University of Vienna. I joined a group young Austrian doctors being trained in Pathology known as “Aisstenten. My memory for the experience is vivid and the details of how I was integrated into the staff of the Institute have stayed with me. As the sole non-Austrian, and an American, I was different from the others, but I could speak German rather well and never felt uncomfortable in their midst. In this regard, the event I cherish is when this group of “Assistenten”, to which I had been assigned, formally lined up and introduced themselves to me by stating their given name and shacking my hand. Thereafter we no longer used the formal “ Sie” but “du” for you. In polite Viennese society I had been accepted as a “Kollege”.

But the ceremonies were not over. They invited me to join them in Grinzing, a suburb of Vienna noted for its vineyards and “heurige” wine taverns to celebrate my acceptance as a colleague. I do not remember how we got there, nor does it surprise me that I do not remember how we got back to Vienna. We drank a great deal of wine, made many toasts and became a bit rowdy, bringing the waiter to our table asking us to tone it down.

A second memory was when a Physician from the United States visited the Institute and came to the morgue while I was doing an autopsy. He had several questions about what I was doing, and after I answered them, using the same language he used, he complimented my English. I never disabused him that it was my mother tongue, but let the compliment stand to honor my Austrian “Kollegen”.

A memory unrelated to the work I did as a Fulbright Fellow was the evening, we dropped by a theater we happen to pass while walking aimlessly in the “Inner City” of Vienna. For a small fee we were allowed to stand at the back of the theater and listen to the recital. It turned out to be Fischer-Dieskau, the foremost baritone and exponent of Shubert lieder performing in the famous Musikveriin. I had never heard of him and immediately became an ardent devotee to his performances. It was only one of the many outstanding musical events we attended while living in Vienna. Many others come to mind as I relate these stories, but they would be better told if we could sit together and share a bottle of chilled Gruner Veltliner on a sunny spring day close to the shade of the Vienna Woods.

Jerry Rosenberg – Fulbright to Austria 1955

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