Heinrich Rauchberg (1860-1938): A Reappraisal of a Central European Demographer's Life and Work

Iris Nachum*

*Corresponding author for this work

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In the small, idyllic German Evangelical Cemetery in Prague-Strašnice, a simple tombstone stands in the back row of graves, dedicated to the memory of "Dr. Heinrich Rauchberg, Professor at the German University in Prague, 1860-1938" and his wife Freia (1874-1939) (see Figures 1 and 2). When the Viennese-born demographer passed away, he left behind him an impressive professional career in the Habsburg monarchy and later in Czechoslovakia: he published a massive body of professional studies in population statistics and was an important figure at the German University in Prague, where he founded the Institute of Political Science in 1898 and served as dean of the Faculty of Law (1902-3, 1916-17, and 1926-27) and as university rector (1911-12). Outside the academic realm, Rauchberg was also involved in a broad range of activities. In 1890, for instance, he headed the Austrian census, in which the Hollerith electric counting machine was employed for the first time in Europe; Franz Kafka, his student in 1905, would later craft a literary monument to Rauchberg, the machine expert, in the short story "In the Penal Colony." Especially after the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, Rauchberg became a familiar figure among the local German minority, particularly because of his radio broadcasts on legal questions; his frequent articles in the German-speaking press on current issues; his numerous public lectures on social topics; his tireless engagement with housing assistance, tenant protection, and social insurance; and his involvement in the German League of Nations Union in the Czechoslovak Republic, which he cofounded in 1922. In short, he was a scholar very much in the public eye.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)78-98
Number of pages21
JournalAustrian History Yearbook
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Center for Austrian Studies, University of Minnesota.


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