My mother, Cornelia Schroeder, who died at the age of 73, was a virologist specializing in influenza and also the editor of her mother’s memoirs.
Cornelia spent the early years of her career in her native East Germany, but after her collapse she went to work at the National Institute for Medical Research in Mill Hill, London. From 1990 to 1993, she was a Wellcome Research Fellow in the Institute’s Division of Virology, working on the isolation of influenza virus protein. There she met an international crowd of like-minded people with whom she remained friends and hiked in West Wales every year – long after her return to Berlin in 1993, returning to the Charité Institute of Virology for an associate position. teacher.
From 2002, she was based at the Max-Planck-Institute in Dresden, as a senior virologist, and after her official retirement in 2016, she remained there to complete her experiments and supervise doctoral students until 2018.
Cornelia, known as “Corky”, was born in occupied Berlin to American writer Edith Anderson (née Handelsman) and her husband, Max Schroeder, a leftist intellectual and publisher who had only returned to Germany. two years earlier after his exile in New York. She grew up in the relatively leafy suburb of Grünau, among other communist, often Jewish, emigrant families and went to the Heinrich-Hertz Schule Berlin-Friedrichshain, a selective high school and sixth form for students excelling in mathematics and science.
At Humboldt University in East Berlin, where she finished her studies – in chemistry in 1970 and in biochemistry in 1972 – she met Rainer Wetzel, a doctoral student. I was born in 1974 and they separated in 1976.
Cornelia remained at Humboldt University and completed her PhD on bacteriophage-virus host cell interactions in 1980 at the Charité Affiliate Institute of Biochemistry and Institute of Virology. At the same time, she worked as a junior researcher, focusing first on bacteriophages and later on herpes simplex virus. From 1984, she became increasingly involved in influenza research.
Yet it was her family history that motivated (what she considered) her greatest achievement. Her mother had died in 1999, after publishing her memoir, Love in Exile, in the United States. The book was a furious, no-nonsense account of how a nonconformist, working-class Jewish woman from the Bronx experienced the post-war period among the predominantly male East German cultural elite.
Corky made it his mission to get his mother’s work published in Germany and translated the book with author Christa Tragelehn. An endorsement from Doris Lessing helped and after the release of the hardback (Liebe im Exil) in 2007, Bertelsmann picked up the rights to the paperback.
Corky is survived by me and two grandchildren, Benjamin and Isla.