Franz Mandl, KES 1936-42

There are various mentions of F Mandl on the OEA website.

Letter from Mrs M.E. Mandl

29th April 2009

The Head
King Edward VII School

Dear Head,

Franz at KES c 1942

I am writing to inform you that my husband, Franz Mandl, who was an old boy of your school, died on Wednesday 4 February 2009. He was 85.

Franz was born in Vienna in 1923, spent some time in Berlin as his father worked for AEG there, and came to Sheffield with his parents and two sisters in 1936 as refugees from the Nazis. He came to King Edward's and always thought of the school with gratitude for the way in which he was helped to settle down in a new country, with new language, weights and measures, English history and geography, and new exams fairly soon. He remembered the great and steady encouragement of many of the staff and also their long discussions while fire-watching during the war, several of the staff being convinced Quakers. Although still technically 'enemy aliens' because naturalisation had been stopped, his father continued to do secret war work at MetroVicks and neither he nor Franz were interned but this must have had special permission.

In 1942, Franz took his A-levels and scholarship exams, getting the Akroyd Scholarship from a Yorkshire foundation (being ineligible for a State Scholarship because of nationality) and a college scholarship to Lincoln College, Oxford, originally to read Chemistry but changing immediately to Physics, doing the Maths Mods option for the first year. He took a shortened war-time physics degree and then joined the Tube Alloy Project (which was the British part of the atomic bomb project) working at Birmingham University. In 1946 he returned to Oxford to work at the Clarendon Laboratory, doing a B.Sc. on helium liquefiers and a D.Phil. in theoretical physics. From 1950 to 1958, he worked at A.E.R.E. Harwell with two years spent at Rochester University N.Y. and in 1958 he moved to the Physics Department of Manchester University as lecturer, retiring in 1984 as Reader in Theoretical Physics. In 1970 he started the Manchester Physics Series of undergraduate textbooks as Chief Editor, writing several of the books and continuing being an active editor until a few weeks before his death. His books on Statistical Physics and Quantum Field Theory have been particularly successful and so has the whole series.

He played the cello from the age of 10, playing chamber music with his father and elder sister and played with many friends for the rest of his life. He must have played at some school concerts and I enclose a photocopy of a picture of the school orchestra on a trip to London to play at the Queen's Hall with Henry Wood (?) conducting. In other times, without the Nazis, he might well have become a professional musician.

He became completely bilingual, thinking and reading or writing in either language but not translating as easily as one might expect, as the words coming into his mind were usually in whatever language he was thinking in at the time. He had a deep knowledge and love of Thomas Mann and of Goethe. At some stage, he said he took a German exam (O or A level?) where the language part would have been extremely good but he had not had any lessons on the set books - just read them!

His interests continued to be Physics, music and walking, particularly in the Peak District and the Lake District, and he was able to continue with all these until a few months before his death. He married in 1949 and is survived by his wife, one daughter and two grand-daughters.

I enclose some papers on the effects of the Holocaust and of immigration on the family. There is an account by Franz's older sister, Eva which she wrote for her children and for some classes that she taught and also cuttings about Franz's grandfather, Edward Ellmann, in his old age in England. There is also a family tree, which is a bit complicated because Franz's parents were cousins. However, it does show how the family were scattered across the world, while none of those remaining in Austria survived the Holocaust.

I have written in some detail as I thought that you might be interested or would like to use some of the information relating to the Holocaust and immigration. Please do not hesitate to pass this around to other staff or to telephone me if anyone has any further enquiries. Franz had very good memories of King Edward's.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. M.E. Mandl

Boy-musicians from King Edward School, Sheffield, who played at Queens' Hall, London, today.
Mandl is front, 2nd from left, with cello

[This was on 11th June 1938]