Friedrich Reuter, Prof. Dr.

30.5.1875 – 18.10.1959
born in Wien, Austria died in Wien, Austria


Senator Faculty of Medicine 1945/46–1946/47

Reuter attended the Franz-Josef secondary school in Vienna and then studied medicine in Zurich (for two semesters) and in Vienna, while also working as secretary and demonstrator at the institute for forensic medicine in Vienna. On March 18th, 1899, he obtained his doctorate. From October 1899 until March 1901 he was an assistant at the pathological institute in Graz and then until October 1909 an active military doctor, serving at the Garrison Hospital 1. In 1905 he habilitated for forensic medicine and in November 1909 began work as an assistant at the institute for forensic medicine and as state court doctor at all Viennese courts. Three years later, in 1912, Reuter was made associate professor and received a teaching assignment for expert analysis of accidents, as well as in 1916 for forensic medicine for law students. At the same time he also became prosector of the municipality of Vienna as well as sworn forensic physician. During the First World War he was active at military courts as well as in the Viennese military medical office.

In 1915 he became staff surgeon of the reserve and in November 1919 full professor for forensic medicine in Graz, with a teaching assignment for medicine students as well as for law students. Reuter held his professorship in Graz – where he also was chairman of the forensic medical institute and museum – from November 1919 until September 1935. Four times, in the academic years of 1922/23, 1927/28 and from 1933 until 1935 he acted as Dean. In 1935 he returned to Vienna as a full professor and became Albin Haberda’s successor.

Immediately after the “Anschluss”, on March 16th, Reuter was arrested and brought to the “brown house” in the Hirschengasse and transferred from there to the police prison Roßauerbrücke, where he remained in preventive custody until March 26th. On March 23rd Reuter’s apartment had been searched by members of the Gestapo. The reason given for his arrest was a “former defamation of the Führer”. No details as to what kind of remarks this entailed were given in the files. In any case, Reuter subsequently could not take the oath of office – as the only person in the whole institute for forensic medicine – and himself requested to be sent into retirement by behest of the Dean’s office. This was approved by the ministry of education at the end of May 1938. The strict measures against Reuter – he was called an “absolute enemy of National Socialism” by Marchet – can be explained, apart from (denunciated) remarks against Hitler and other anti-National Socialist remarks, by his affinity toward Austrofascism. He supposedly had stated the following during a conversation about the death sentence: “Not enough of these brown beasts can be hanged”. In one lecture he had said after the murder of a woman in which the perpetrator had been a member of the HJ that “the youth had received the training to murder in the HJ”. Since he had been appointed “by Prof. Arzt [spaced out in the original, author’s note]” in 1934 Marchet saw him as a “downright profiteer of the system”. Reuter’s close relationship to the corporative state was also seen to be evidenced in his work as office head of the Vaterländische Front (Fatherland’s Front) in Graz. The Regional Head Office concluded that because Reuter, in his position as Dean, had had to “report expulsions, verdicts by the ministry of education to the disciplinary commission” he had “made many enemies”. In spite of these relatively clear facts Reuter’s memberships in political organizations show a more differentiated picture: He had indeed been a member of clerical and Austrofascist organizations such as the Christian-Social Party (1927-1933) and the Ostmärkische Sturmscharen (a political paramilitary group) – as an officer and regional medical leader for Styria and inspector general of the medical corps organization – but also had held memberships in German-national or nationalistic movements such as the Greater German People’s Party (1919-1925) and the All-German Association (from 1920 until its dissolution in Austria). In an evaluation the district office of the city of Graz wrote that Reuter had “originally” been at home “in the national camp”, but had then “found the way to the system and proven himself as a strict proponent of the Dollfuss-Schuschnigg government”. “Through denunciations” he had “done much harm to party members” and had among other things also acted against his own daughter, who had been a party member since May 1936.

These former memberships did not have a positive effect on Reuter’s evaluation, however, and he was fired in September 1938 on the basis of §4 of the Career Civil Servant Act. Because of the termination of his retirement contract Reuter also lost the right to pension payments which were immediately ceased. In November 1938 he and his family received temporary financial support – for the time from October 1st until December 31st, 1938. Apparently Reuter also received these payments in the following years.

It is not completely clear what Reuter did professionally during the Nazi era. In the personnel file from August 6th, 1945, only a position as “practicing physician from 11. 4. 44-13. 3. 45” as “company and district doctor at Wagner/Biro” is noted. In some biographical encyclopedias, however, one finds indications that Reuter also continued working as a general practicing physician (for example in: “Kürschners deutscher Gelehrtenkalender”, 1950). In the Reich Doctors’ Registry one only finds a slightly unclear note from April 12th, 1944, saying he was “niedergelassen[er] Allg. Prakt. u. Hauptamtl. Betriebs- u. Rev. A.” (resident general doctor and full-time company and district doctor) in Vienna’s 13th district as well as in “Stadlau and Vösendorf”. In Gall’s obituary for Reuter there is also mention of work as a practicing physician after his imprisonment.

Reuter’s attempts starting in 1942 to be granted a pension were not fruitful, even with help from the faculty. Not least because the partial repeal of measures on the basis of §4 of the Career Civil Servant Act had only been possible until March 31st, 1940. The maintenance payments on the other hand were granted until the end of 1944.

Reuter’s reinstatement after the war happened very quickly due to his persecution by the National Socialists. On May 9th, 1945, the Dean’s office again gave him the chairmanship of the university institute for forensic medicine. In 1945/46 and 1946/47 he was senator of the medical faculty. Since Reuter turned 70 shortly after the war he retired in July, but at least was able to continue teaching in the academic year of 1945/46 thanks to a request by the faculty. He was officially reinstated into office on September 6th, 1945. After he was made honorary professor he held the lecture on forensic medicine for law students in the following year. It is due to his initiative that the Viennese institute was expanded to include a chemical department for toxicological tests.

Apart from his work at the University of Vienna Reuter also was city councilman and administrator of the health care system of the municipality of Vienna from June 1945 until February 1946 and head of the public health department of the ministry of social administration from April 1946 until 1949. In 1948 he undertook a trip to England and the United States to study the health care systems. He once more returned to the University of Vienna in the academic year of 1950/51, when he held visiting lectures on forensic medicine for law students.

Among other things, Reuter was an honorary member of the German Society for Forensic and Social Medicine, full member of the Imperial-Leopoldian Academy of German Natural Scientists in Halle and president of the Association for Public Health, and later social-hygiene advisor to the ministry of social administration. He was bearer of the Grand Decoration of Honor in Silver for Services to the Republic of Austria.

Reuter mainly worked in the fields of gynecology and forensic medicine, especially studying suffocation, burning, poisoning and traumatic diseases of the brain as well as the spine and the spinal cord. One of his most important works is “Das Lehrbuch der gerichtlichen Medizin” (1933).

Archiv der Universität Wien, Medizinische Fakultät, Personalakt 602. |
Bundesarchiv Berlin, DS, Mikrofilm B 38. |
Österreichisches Staatsarchiv/Archiv der Republik, Bestand Unterricht, Personalakt Friedrich Reuter. |
Österreichisches Staatsarchiv/Archiv der Republik, Gauakt Friedrich Reuter. |
Österreichisches Staatsarchiv/Archiv der Republik, Bundeskanzleramt, Bestand „Berufsbeamtenverordnung“ (BBV).

Andreas Huber

Zuletzt aktualisiert am 04/15/22