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Virtual Conference

Help us celebrate the life and work of Professor Peter Felix Ganz on the centenary of his birth, Oxford medievalist extraordinaire, scholar and ambassador of Anglo-German relationship! Join a group of Oxford colleagues, friends, former students and family talking about his scholarly legacy and memories of his life. The event will be life-streamed on Tuesday 3 November, 6:30-8pm, via youtube: We would welcome tributes and memories; please send them in advance to Henrike Lähnemann and / or Adam Ganz.


18.30 Introduction - Adam Ganz

18.35 Peter Ganz as a German Medievalist - Henrike Lähnemann and Nigel Palmer

18.55 Peter Ganz as Mentor - Bryan Ward Perkins

19.05 Peter Ganz and Jacob Burckhardt - Nicolette Mout

19.15 Peter Ganz as Colleague - Andrew Kahn, Nicholas Cronk, and further Oxford colleagues

19.30 Questions and contributions

19.50 close

About Peter Ganz

Peter Felix Ganz (Mainz, 3 November 1920 – Oxford, 17 August 2006) came to the U.K. in 1938 as a refugee, having been held in Buchenwald concentration camp after Kristallnacht, as he and his family were considered Jews under the Nazi laws. He started to read German at King's College London, but was soon interned on the Isle of Man. During the war he served first in the Royal Pioneer Corps and then in the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (The so-called Secret Listeners), listening to captured German Prisoners of War. He was part of the team at Farm Hall listening to the German nuclear physicists including Werner Heisenberg and Otto Hahn as they heard news of the atom bomb at Hiroshima.

He concluded his studies at King's College London (PhD 1955). After holding lectureships in London, he came to Oxford in 1960 as Reader in German and subsequently Fellow of Hertford College. He was a pioneer of widening participation, part of the small group of Hertford fellows who encouraged applicants from schools who did not usually send pupils to Oxford. In 1972 he was appointed Professor of German and became a Fellow of St Edmund Hall. In 1985 he retired to take up the position of Resident Fellow at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel and an honorary professorship at the University of Göttingen (until 1988). His wife Rosemary (with whom he had 4 children) died in 1986. His second marriage to me, a Dutch historian, led him to divide his life between England and the Netherlands.

The subject of his first book (1957) was the influence of English on the German vocabulary, 1640-1815. His interests soon broadened. He edited a number of medieval texts, of which his edition (1978) of Gottfried von Straßburg's masterpiece Tristan became the best-known. His Oxford inaugural lecture on Jacob Grimm's Conception of German Studies (1973) showed his own commitment to the study of language in combination with historical investigations. He wrote on Paul Celan, admired Bertolt Brecht, and loved Theodor Fontane. He did not mince his words, though, if he happened to dislike certain literary figures – a fate that befell Thomas Mann. His teaching reflected his exceptional range of interests.

He was instrumental in bringing together the results of Anglo-American and German medieval scholarship through lectures, conferences, and joint publications. With Werner Schröder (Marburg) he set up the Anglo-German Colloquia for German Medieval Studies still the most important forum for the exchange of scholarship in medieval studies between Britain and Germany. He was awarded the German Großes Bundesverdienstkreuz in 1973. Twenty years later he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg.