DPF’s family tree – the Mandls

This is the final part (Part 7 and 8) of my family tree covering the Mandls, my father’s mother’s family. Both my great grandparents on this side of the family were Mandls as they were first cousins.

The Mandls were a prominent Viennese family. They have even had a book written about them (and four other families). There are three main branches to the Mandls I’m going to cover. The physicians (which I am descended from), the arms merchants (powerful cousins) and the NZ branch (that sponsored my family into New Zealand).


Leopold Mandl is my 3rd great grandfather and the known patriarch of the Mandls. His father Esriel died in 1815 when Leopold (born 1778) was 37. Esriel’s father Koppel died in 1778.

Leopold was born in Vysocina in Moravia (now Czech Republic). He was a doctor and practised in Hungary before moving to Vienna.

He married Julie Sterk and they had six sons and a daughter – Ludwig (merchant), Ferdinand (doctor), Ignatz (doctor/politician) Bernhard (merchant), Joseph (moved to Australia then NZ), Sigmund (merchant) and Regina (married, had 12 children).

Ludwig and Bernhard founded a grain wholesaler and were very successful, leaving over two million kronen (around US$1 million in today’s currency) to their families.

Ludwig also went into business with Sigmund buying into Berthold Bass which made cartridges. They eventually became full owners and they expanded buying Hirtenberger Patronenfabrik. Ignatz Mandl (my third great uncle) was a politician as well as a doctor. He was a populist political radical (called the idol of the little people) and the mentor of Karl Lueger (Mayor of Vienna). As Lueger went from populism into anti-Semitism, they fell out.

Ferdinand Mandl is my 2nd great grandfather. He was born in 1829 and practised as a doctor in Romania. He married Friederike Schorr and moved to Vienna. In the mid 1860s he went blind from purulent conjunctivitis. His doctor left his a flask of poison in case he decided he could not live as a blind doctor. But in fact he carried on and become venerated as a doctor as his fellows saw him as someone who understood suffering. He was widely loved and adored by the local population, seen almost as saintly.

Ferdinand had three sons. Alexander (born 1861), Ludwig (born 1862) and Wilhelm (born 1868). Ferdinand died in 1812, aged 83.

Alexander we will return to, as he went into industry, including munitions. Ludwig Mandl is my great grandfather. Ludwig married his cousin Irene Mandl (my great grand mother) who is a daughter of Bernhard Mandl, who is also my 2nd great grandfather.

Ludwig Mandl, my great grand father

As previously mentioned Bernhard was a very successful grain wholesaler. They had a villa in the summer resort of Bad Voslau.

Bernhard had three children – Louis, Irene and Julius. Julius (1880 – 1954) became a pioneer of German cinema, and later moved to Hollywood. He changed his name to Joe May.

Irene was born in 1868. She married her cousin Ludwig and died in 1920 aged 52.

Ludwig was born in 1862 and died in Vienna in 1937 aged 75. Ludwig became a Professor of gynaecology in Vienna and was also highly esteemed. My family has a huge book (think one foot wide) of testimonials given to him when he retired. His death was recorded in the British Medical Journal as an eminent foreign doctor.

This is a painting of my great grand mother, Irene Mandl, which we had at home for many years. It has now been gifted to Te Papa. The painter was John Quincy Adams.

Ludwig and Irene had three children. Richard Mandl (1891 – 1926), Paul Peter Mandl (born 1892) and my grandmother Fritzi (Irene Frederica) Mandl (1900 – 1994).

My grandparents managed to get my father out to England and then followed him a few months later in 1938 after my grandmother successfully got my grandfather released from custody.

Thanks to a cousin, Charles Mandl (who features later under the NZ branch), sponsoring them to New Zealand, they emigrated here as refugees. As a condition of being allowed to leave by the Nazis, they could only take a few possessions, so left behind the vast bulk of their property.

My father is also a doctor, as was his grandfather, and two generations before that also. Basically the Mandls were doctors throughout most of the 1800s and 1900s.


Ludwig and Sigmund (children of Leopold) joined the firm of Bethold Bass which produced cartridges. They eventually became co-owners in 1883. The firm went on to become a leading player in the Austrian munitions market.

In 1887 Ludwig also purchased Hirtenberger Patronenfabrik, a leading cartridge company. Ludwig died in 1893 and his shares went to brother Sigmund. Sigmund died 18 years later in 1911.

Alexander Mandl was born in 1861 in Romania and was my 2nd great-uncle. He joined Hirtenberger in 1893 aged 22. The company was very successful and had 2,000 staff in 1913. The advent of WWI saw them grow to 4,188 employees in 1916.

The defeat of Austria in WWI led to Hirterberger being forced to stop most munitions and they instead focused on hunting ammunition. In 1920 they had 663 staff.

Alexander Mandl had a son Fritz Mandl (Friedrich) who was born in 1900. He was my first cousin twice removed. He joined Hirtenberger Patronenfabrik in 1920, aged 20. The firm acquired factories in Poland, Netherlands, Switzerland and Hungary. It became one of the big four munitions companies in the world. They exported 90% of what they produced as they were banned from supplying Austria.

In 1930 Fritz took over as general manager. They also expanded into making aircraft. He was thought to be the third richest man in Austria (worth around US$300 million in today’s dollars) and one of the richest men in the world

He was a powerful figure in Europe and was said to be able to break a European prime minister faster than he could snap a toothbrush in half. Both Mussolini and Hitler courted him and attended his parties.

Fritz Mandl was a supporter of fascism and a pretty terrible person. Despite being of Jewish heritage, he was sought out by Hitler as a potential supporter of the Anschluss (annexation of Austria by Germany). In fact one of his nephews was at home when Hitler visited and Hitler asked to see his school report card, commended him for his grades and signed it for him.

In 1933 he married his second wife of five, 19 year old Hedy Lamarr. Lamarr was then a famous film actress. In fact she was billed as the “world’s most beautiful woman”.

My father as a three year old had Hedy Lamarr sometimes come over and play with him. Hedy Lamarr was the wife of my first cousin, twice remioved.

Lamarr was not just a film star. She helped develop a radio guidance system for Allied torpedos using a frequency-hopping technology which is used today in bluetooth and wifi. Am amazingly talented woman.

She left Fritz Mandl and went to the US. After she left Austria, she became a famous Hollywood star.

A 2017 film on her life is Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. And a TV series on her life is also under production with Gal Gadot playing Hedy. She was a remarkable woman and I am looking forward to the TV series.


Joseph Leopold Mandl (sometimes called Moritz Mandl also) was born in Vienna to Leopold Mandl and his wife Julie in 1837. Joseph is missing from almost all official documents about the Mandl family.

He took part in the Battle of Solferino in 1859, aged 21. It was a terrible battle which led to the founding of the International Red Cross. It lasted nine hours and around 40,000 were killed or wounded.

My third great uncle defected from the Austrian Army. This was considered disgraceful at the time and hence he was removed from the official histories.

He went to Victoria, Australia in 1860 and then moved to the West Coast of New Zealand where he worked on the Tuapeka and Waitahuna gold fields. He then went to Hokitika and worked as a store keeper.

He was elected Mayor of Hokitika three times in 1889, 1890 and 1895. Quite incredible that a disgraced deserter from the Austrian Army can come to New Zealand and end up as a Mayor.

He was a generous donor to the Westland Hospital, which named a ward after him in 1923- the Mandl Ward. The ward remained until 1985.

But he did more than just that. He set up his own brewery in Hokitika in 1872.

The Mandl Brewery later in 1927 formed Westland Breweries with four other breweries. In 1970 Westland Breweries became Monteith’s Brewing Company so my 3rd great-uncle was an owner of Monteith’s!

In 1863 he had the first of five children with Annie Isabella Devlin who was born in Edinburgh 1842. They were married in 1870 in a Catholic Church, so Joseph may have converted. Many of the Mandls were not religious, even though they were a Jewish family.

The five children were:

Margaret Mandl born 1863, died in 1927 aged 63. She became a Nun.

Julia Mandl born 1866, died in 1951 aged 85. She married Thomas Hall Coltman who was the well known proprietor of The Grand Hotel (Willis Street) in Wellington, followed on his son (also called Thomas)

Charles Leopold Mandl born 1872, died in 1939, aged 66

Rachel Mandl born 1874, died in 1956 aged 82

Mary Mandl born and died in 1876

Their mother died in 1877 aged only 35.

Charles Mandl studied medicine in Edinburgh where he met his wife, Susan Adamson. They had one child and he was a GP in Foxton and then Wellington. He served in the military in WWI (ironically my grandfather also served, but for Austria).

It was Charles who sponsored my grandparents and father to come to New Zealand as refugees. He did this despite being a distant cousin, and without him they would not have been allowed into New Zealand. Sadly he died while my grandparents were on the boat journey here, so my family never got to meet the man who made it possible for them to move to New Zealand.

Julia Mandl and Rachel Mandl did befriend my grandparents and father, despite being relatively distant cousins.

However Charles had a son Moritz Mandl (1902 – 1984) and Moritz had a daughter Margaret Mandl and Margaret’s daughter Jayne (my 4th cousin) made contact with my family a few years ago and we now catch up every so often. So very pleased to have met the family who are responsible for my family being in New Zealand.

So three very different branches of the Mandl family. My direct relatives were doctors practising in Vienna for around 125 years and highly esteemed and even adored.

The cousins who went into munitions were very different. One branch of the family being devoted to healing, and another branch very rich and powerful from munitions, and cuddling up to fascism.

And then we had the New Zealand branch where a disgraced defector from the Austrian Army came to NZ, became a Mayor and publican, and his son was responsible for my grandparents and father being accepted a refugees here.

It’s a fascinating family and I’m very proud to be 1/4 Mandl.

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