Announcement new name Cluster Zuid
Today, Leiden University announces who the new Cluster Zuid on the Witte Singel will be named after. Summer 2023, a ballot determined the name of the complex on the former Van Wijkplaats/Van Eyckhof, which is expected to be completed in March. It was already established that the complex would be named after a female scientist.
In September 2023, staff of the Faculty of Humanities were given the chance to cast a vote for one of a total of four possible names: Raden Adjeng Kartini, Herta Mohr, Aleida Nijland and Maria Ulfah. After the ballot boxes closed on 22 September, a clear winner emerged. Now that the completion of Cluster South is imminent, the name can be announced.
And that winner is...
Egyptologist Herta Mohr's name was by far the most popular among voters. This means that after its opening, Cluster South will be called the 'Herta Mohr Building'. This is the first time a Leiden university building has been named after a woman.
Who was Herta Mohr?
Herta Theresa Mohr was born in Vienna in 1914, the daughter of a doctor who would later be honoured by the Red Cross for his work during the First World War. Mohr initially followed in her father's footsteps, studying Medicine at the University of Vienna, but later switched to the Faculty of Humanities, where she took subjects in Egyptology and African Studies.
Mohr in Leiden
Mohr and her parents moved to Leiden in the late 1930s, presumably because of political developments in Austria. In Leiden, she studied Egyptology at the then Rijksuniversiteit. During that time, she researched the mastaba (burial chapel) of the Egyptian judge and priest Hetepherakhty (c. 2400 BC) at the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities. The mastaba originally stood in Saqqara, but had been sold to the Leiden museum in 1902. In 1938, Mohr gave a lecture on the burial chapel at the International Orientalist Congress in Brussels. While studying in Leiden, she lived at Hogewoerd 113 and was a member of the Augustinus student society.
After the outbreak of World War II, Mohr was forced to move to Eindhoven. Here she worked on her book on the mastaba, which was hampered by the lack of access to books, study materials, and, of course, the mastaba itself. Mohr was arrested and deported to Westerbork concentration camp on 2 August 1942 because of her Jewish origins. The exact date of her death cannot be determined, but according to official sources, Herta Mohr died on 15 April 1945 at the age of 30 in Bergen Belsen concentration camp, just before British and Canadian troops liberated the camp.
Mohr managed to write the preface to her book just before her arrest. The book, The Mastaba of Hetep-Her-Akhti: Study on an Egyptian Tomb Chapel in the Museum of Antiquities Leiden, was published in 1943 and apparently made quite an impression; even some German universities purchased it during the war, something that was highly unusual at that time.
Dean Mark Rutgers on the announcement of the name: 'We are very proud to announce today that the newest building on the Humanities Campus will be named after Herta Mohr. The Herta Mohr building represents not only the physical expansion of our campus; it also symbolises the recognition of the ineradicable academic contribution made by this exceptional Egyptologist and by female academics within our faculty.'
The information on this page is based on the research of Nicky van de Beek.