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edith arlen † 2012

edith arlen was born edith aptowitzer, daughter of mina, née dichter, and michael aptowitzer, in vienna in 1925. with her parents and her brother walter, edith lived on the third floor above the business premises.

as a child, she began training as a ballet dancer with grete wiesenthal in josefstädter straße, continuing her training in opera ballerina hedi pfundmayr’s dance studio. hedy pfundmayr recommended edith for the ballet school of the vienna state opera, where she was admitted as a student at the age of seven, with sessions on four afternoons a week. in 1935, she danced at the world premiere of franz lehar’s operetta guiditta starring richard tauber and jarmila novotná. for health reasons, edith had to take a sabbatical from the opera. after hitler annexed austria in 1938 and later in exile, she never got a chance to take up her dancing career again.

edith was forced to witness her father’s arrest by the sa and the sacking of her parental home. her father was released from prison in mid-april 1938, but arrested once more on the street on may 15 and deported to dachau concentration camp, and later to buchenwald. her brother walter emigrated to america in mid-march 1939, so edith was left alone in vienna with her ailing mother and her grandmother on the father’s side. her grandmother was deported to theresienstadt in 1942, and then murdered in treblinka. because of a quarantine due to typhoid fever, there was a delay in her father’s release from buchenwald concentration camp, and the family only just made their escape to england in may 1939 before their entry visa expired. shortly after, her father – like all male refugees – was interned on the isle of man as an enemy alien, again leaving fourteen-year-old edith alone with her sick mother. soon edith began to work for the daily telegraph as an accountant, where she also translated from the german. during the blitz, the apartment they lived in was damaged by bombs on three occasions.

the family only got visa and passages for america in 1946, enabling them to rejoin walter and the rest of the family in chicago. in 1954, edith finished her social psychology studies, which she had started at the university of chicago, and began to work as a social psychologist. amongst others, she wrote the first study on the „the impact of television in the lives of our children“ in the volume “living with television”.

in 1970, edith married businessman hans wachtel, another viennese refugee who had been living in lima since 1938. when the political situation in peru became volatile, they moved to los angeles in 1976. her husband died in 1997. in her later years, edith arlen worked as a volunteer in art museums, musical societies and social organizations.



mit unterstützung von: ottakringer kulturfreunde      nationalfonds der republik österreich      wien kultur       bezirk ottakring       Falter