More Alumni memories from Ilse Holling, IIASA employee number 18

Ilse Holling - who still owns her old personnel ID card - came to IIASA in 1973 to work in the Secretariat/Conference Services.


My boss was 007 (Andrei Bykov) and we started in Haus Rosenauer in Baden in May of 1973 but soon after moved to the Lodge in Laxenburg.  Everyone seemed to work at the Lodge in the early days, except the director and his immediate crew who were in the first completed offices in the Schloss. The Lodge was a wooden barrack hastily built together by the Austrians to accommodate the quickly growing number of employees. We loved our Lodge and even the rather precarious incident of one wall of the lodge separating from the rest of the building, didn’t diminish our affection.  Ruth Steiner (Head of Personnel back then) ran through the corridor crying ‘evacuate, evacuate’ while some scientists where holding the wall from the outside until proper help arrived.    

I have many wonderful memories of my years at IIASA - in fact, I was saying I had the best time of my life during those years and even got paid for it.  

We were the true pioneers as there was no ‘history’ yet.  In fact, we made history.  How often does one get the chance to do this in ones lifetime?  We established many cherished traditions, for example the beer hour on Friday afternoons under the elms in the park.  Herr Jambrich would go through the corridors of the Lodge banging spoon against lid and everyone would drop their pens and join the party under the elms in the park.  By everyone, I mean director and scientists and us ‘lowly general staff’, all together.  Then came the ski trips about once a month during the winter. Silvfer Newton would find the places to go, a big bus would arrive on Friday evening in front of the Schloss and off we went for the weekend well equipped with Doppel-Liters of wine and songs for the journey. For summer activities, Director Howard Raiffa built us a tennis court, the Russians introduced the International Dinners, in the summer we had a 4th of July party and the Canadians – not to be outdone by the Americans - threw their 1st of July Canada Day pancake breakfasts for everyone.  

Lots of fun, but also lots of good work, long hours, and incredible dedication from everyone.  Sadly, the Lodge is now gone, but IIASA thrives and has contributed much to the scientific world and built bridges of understanding between nations and cultures. I am grateful and proud to have been part of IIASA’s pioneer years.   

I returned to IIASA in 1981-1983 as Ilse Holling. Buzz became director of IIASA and we faced one of the more difficult periods in IIASA’s life with the withdrawal of the United States as a major contributing member of the institute.  However, IIASA survived and continues to fulfill a very important role in the scientific community under its present director, as well as the many that came before him.


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Last edited: 05 January 2016

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