Hans Peter Obermayer (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich)
In recent years research increasingly focused on Oxford's leading role hosting German "refugee classical scholars" in the 1930s, e.g., The Ark of Civilization: Refugee Scholars and Oxford University (2017) or Christopher Stray’s Festschrift Classical Scholarship and its History (2019).
Eduard Fraenkel plays a central role here: Stray alone has published four essays on him (2014, 2016, 2017, 2021). The author of the famous commentary on Agamemnon made such an impact on his field and his students, that he was posthumously honored at Corpus Christi College with a "Fraenkel Room." In 2018 this room was renamed the "Refugee Scholars Room": the intent was to honor all Refugee Scholars "who fled persecution and were given a home in Corpus during the 20th century" (Elsner 2019, 343).
The aim of this lecture is to platform Rudolf Pfeiffer who has so far received less attention than his 'superior' colleague Fraenkel: he also found refuge at the Corpus between 1938 and 1951, regarded by his British students as " a gentle, subtle, brilliant man". In this paper, for the first time extensive archival material is evaluated: Archival records from the Munich University Archives, correspondences of Pfeiffer, Schwartz, Rehm, Klingner, diary entries, and the like. Files from academic aid organizations are also included.
In Germany, Pfeiffer was considered as one of the most capable professors: Succeeding his teacher and mentor Eduard Schwartz he taught at Munich University from 1929 until his dismissal in July 1937 due to his marriage with a Jewish woman. His reputation as a papyrologist and expert on Callimachus was outstanding: before his emigration he already had published nine works on this subject, including two text editions and a monograph. Therefore, it was obvious for him to move to Oxford, since the Bodleian Library, where a large part of the Oxyrhynchus papyri were kept, offered him ideal working opportunities. Pfeiffer created a groundbreaking work in Oxford for Clarendon Press similar to Fraenkel's Agamemnon, a two-volume edition of Callimachus that is still admired today. But unlike Fraenkel, and unlike most German emigrants, Pfeiffer decided after much hesitation to return to Germany after the war.
I will present the following aspects: First, the circumstances of the dismissal, how he emigrated and accustomed himself at Oxford University (Campion Hall, Corpus), and the role of his supporters (Schwartz, Father D'Arcy, Fraenkel). In the second part Pfeiffer's remigration to Germany will be reconstructed in detail, which took more than five years. Here, the merits of the classicist Albert Rehm, first rector of Munich University after the war, are to be acknowledged. Already from the end of 1945 onwards, he worked on the recall of his former colleague Pfeiffer, even with the support of Stefan Weinstock, who stayed in Munich in 1945/46 with the rank of a major in the US Army. Friedrich Klingner took over Rehm's role as 'recruiter' and organizer of Pfeiffer's recall from 1947 on, after he had been successfully transferred from Leipzig in the Soviet zone to Munich University.