With a family tree full of doctors and a strong belief in education, it is little wonder that when Liselotte Brasch thought about leaving a legacy, she chose to leave a bequest that would support students at Sydney Medical School.
Growing up in Austria shortly before World War II, Liselotte spent her summers with her physician uncle travelling around the countryside in a horse-drawn carriage and sitting with him in his ‘pharmacy’ while he made up medicines.
Doctors and would-be doctors were everywhere within her family – so much so that her father was not allowed to pursue his aspirations because his parents believed there were enough doctors in the family already.
“Consequently, when mother fell pregnant he stipulated that – if it was going to be a boy – he would become a doctor,” Liselotte says in her memoir, Angels On My Shoulder.
It was a dream that would eventuate but only in the most trying of circumstances.
With the outbreak of World War II imminent and their father gravely ill, Liselotte’s brother was forced to flee to Switzerland to continue his medical training. The decision heralded a 12-year-long separation as the War forced her to leave Austria and the family as well.
Given passage to England through Kindertransport – the rescue efforts which brought refugee Jewish children to Great Britain from Nazi Germany – Liselotte stayed for ten years before immigrating to Australia.
It was in Australia that she met and married Rabbi Rudolph Brasch AM OBE, a well-known Jewish Minister and author. As Liselotte wrote, “It was a marriage made in heaven.”
“Theirs was a true love story,” says Gary Bortz, Liselotte’s nephew. “They shared a love of history and writing, and were extremely supportive of one another.”
It is this love story that inspired the naming of the scholarships that will be established at the University of Sydney, thanks to Liselotte’s$6 million bequest.
“Naming the scholarship after him was her way of honouring their relationship and keeping his name alive,” adds Gary. “She faced many obstacles in her life and I think that leaving this bequest is her way of easing the path of students experiencing financial hardship.”
The Rudolph Brasch Scholarships for Sydney Medical School students will be available from 2016.
“This bequest will not only help disadvantaged students studying medicine to pursue their dreams of becoming a doctor, but contribute to producing the best possible medical graduates of the future,” says Professor Bruce Robinson, Dean Sydney Medical School.