Jaime Vándor, or Helmut Jacques Vándor, as on his birth certificate, was born in Vienna to an Austrian mother and Hungarian father in February 1933. Less than four weeks before, Hitler had come to power in Germany. In 1939, after the annexation of Austria to the Third Reich, his Jewish family took refuge in Budapest, Hungary. His father, who had suffered greatly in the First World War on the Russian front and then as a prisoner of war in Eastern Siberia until 1920, was determined not to live through another war. With this in mind he established himself in Barcelona, the idea being to free his family from Hungary; however, with the sealing of the borders this was to prove impossible.
In Budapest, along with his mother and brother, he suffered the vicissitudes and racial persecution that followed the German army’s invasion of Hungary in March 1944. In the months preceding the Soviet occupation of the capital (January 1945) they, and 5,200 other Hungarian Jews, were saved from deportation in one of the “Spanish homes” thanks to the protection of the “Righteous among the nations” Ángel Sanz Briz and Giorgio Perlasca. A large part of his family perished in the Holocaust.
In 1947 he was finally reunited with his father in Barcelona. He finished his secondary education in the Instituto Menéndez y Pelayo in 1951. He graduated in Philosophy and Literature, Semitic Philology section, from the University of Barcelona in 1956 and took his Doctorate in 1987.
Jaime Vándor’s doctoral thesis, in Comparative Literature, appeared under the title Los ricos de espíritu. Estudios en torno a un personaje literario. In this thesis, and starting from Dostoevsky’s “Idiot”, he establishes a psychological, stable and timeless model, of maximum human perfection, with the common and differentiating traits of some forty characters from Homer to 20th century drama and fiction.
Alongside his university studies, Vándor took eight years of theory in the Conservatorio Superior de Música de Barcelona, which included three of Harmony and one of Counterpoint, as well as Musical Palaeography and Musicology in the C.S.I.C. He taught History of Music and Musical Forms in the Colegio Mayor Virgen Inmaculada between 1970 and 1977, and History and Literature in “Dor Hahemshej” –adult Jewish education in the Israelite Community of Barcelona.
After spending six months in Israel studying Modern Hebrew (Ein Hashofet Kibbutz, 1957-1958), a subject that was not then part of the University of Barcelona study plan, he joined the University as Assistant Professor, becoming Course Head in 1967, and Associate Foreign Professor in 1987. He undertook further training to perfect his studies in Israel (once more in Ein Hashofet, 1966-67, and in Ulpan Akiva, 1989). Between 1958 and his retirement in 2003, he taught Hebrew Language and Literature, Modern Hebrew Literature, and Modern and Contemporary Jewish History, among other subjects, in the Philology Faculty of the University of Barcelona.
Vándor has taken part as a guest in numerous symposia and international congresses. He has given hundreds of lectures in Spain, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Israel on Jewish historical and cultural subjects, universal literature, especially in the area of the German, Hungarian and Hebrew languages, as well as on the history of music. As translator from Hungarian he was given an award by Hungarian broadcasting in 1977 for Veinte Poemas de Endre Ady. He also translated Sin Juzgar, the autobiography of Tibor Déry (1894-1977). For his work as a poet, please see the appropriate area of this web-page.
Jaime Vándor was founder and director of the Israelite Community of Barcelona library (1957-1965). Together with Roser Lluch, he founded the first Asociación de Relaciones Culturales España-Israel in 1979, before diplomatic relations were established between the two countries. This was later re-named Associació de Relacions Culturals Catalunya-Israel. He was its secretary-general for fifteen years, under the successive presidencies of Jordi Cervelló, August Panyella, Baltasar Porcel and Nuria Espert. He is currently a member of the board, the president being Andreu Lascorz.
He was founding member, together with the Hermanas de Nuestra Señora de Sión and with C. Benarroch, of the Entesa Judeo-Cristiana de Catalunya. He is still a member of its board. Member of the Associació Cultural Catalano-Hongaresa and of the Societat Catalana d’Estudis Hebraics, as well as of the Sociedad Española de Estudios Hebreos y Judíos, based in Madrid. Member of the Amical Mauthausen. Member of Honour of the Rahel Varnhagen Gesellschaft society, Hagen-Berlin (Germany), as well as of the Fundazione Giorgio Perlasca (Padua, Italy) and of the Asociación Galega de Amizade con Israel (Vigo-Santiago, Galicia). He collaborates with the Casa Sefarad-Israel, and is member of its permanent seminary.
He was Chancellor of the Israeli consulate in Barcelona from its creation in 1994, a position he held at the same time as his teaching work in the university. He was Acting Honorary Consul from 1.1.1997 until the consulate closed on 1.1.1998.
Married, with three sons.