On 10th April 1945 the first Soviet soldiers reached the University district in Vienna. Three days later the whole of Vienna was in the hands of the Red Army. The abandoned university building was requisitioned by the Soviet troops as a first aid centre and stable for horses. Nevertheless there were already efforts as early as 11th April to re-open the University of Vienna for study. The student Karl Schubert, subsequently professor of Jewish Studies, who belonged to a Catholic resistance group entered into negotiations with Soviet commando posts and achieved an evacuation of the University on 16th April. On 25th April the first post-war Rector, the lawyer Ludwig Adamovich, was elected and on 29th May 1945 lectures began for the summer semester. The University of Vienna was, therefore, the first educational establishment in Austria to re-open after the liberation from National Socialism. The consequences of National Socialism and the war, however, were still evident many years later and required enormous efforts for their elimination. Without the hard work of the students none of this would have been possible. Shortage of food, the clearance of rubble, the recovery of books and laboratory equipment from storage, the reconstruction of demolished buildings and finally the de-nazification of the teaching body all had to be taken in hand. Of those who had been expelled in 1938, very few returned to the University, and there were very few attempts to bring emigrants back to Vienna. Reconstruction work on the University of Vienna's Main Building was completed in 1951.
Lit.: Kurt Schubert, Die Wiedereröffnung der Universität Wien im Mai 1945 (= Wiener Universitätsreden N.F. 1, Wien 1991)
Alma Mater Rudolphina during Reconstruction
The reconstruction of the University of Vienna after the devastation of the Second World War required donations. This postcard was sold for 2 Schillings and the proceeds went to the reconstruction of the University building as a "building-donation". (Photo in the Archive of the University of Vienna)
Return of Books from Storage, 1945/47
After 1943 1.2 million books had been stored in nine castles in Lower Austria and in the cellar of the Hofburg. By 1947 they had all been returned to the library. This picture shows Johann Gans, Director of the University Library, replacing books in the unheated book-stack (1946). (Photo in the Archive of the University of Vienna)