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Hans J. Rehfisch (1891–1960)

Author of Die Hexen von Paris

Includes the names: Hans Jose Rehfisch, Hans José Rehfisch

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Hans Rehfisch, also known as Hans José Rehfisch, was born to a Jewish family in Berlin, Germany. His father Eugen Rehfisch was a distinguished physician and researcher. Hans studied economics, philosophy, law and political science at the universities of Berlin, Grenoble and Würzburg. In 1916, he received his doctorate in law at the University of Würzburg and began working as a lawyer in Berlin. He gave up the law for a career in the theater, and became the most successful German playwright of the Weimar era. He published works under his own name and several pseudonyms, including H.G. Tennyson Holmes, Sydney Phillips, Georg Turner-Krebs, and José Rehfisch. With Erwin Piscator, he led the Zentraltheater in 1922-1923. His play The Dreyfus Affair (1929), written with historian Wilhelm Herzog, was published under the joint pseudonym René Kestner. It was adapted into a German film in 1930 and a British film in 1931 (Dreyfus, aka The Dreyfus Case). In 1933, Rehfisch was arrested by the Nazis in Dresden after the premiere of his play Der Verrat des Hauptmanns Grisel (Captain Grisel's Betrayal), warning of the dangers of National Socialism. He was released on the condition that he leave the country, so he went into exile in Austria and then to the UK. In London, he worked first as a metal worker, then for the BBC and the U.S. Office of Strategic Services. With Hermann Friedmann, Heinz Jaeger, and Karl Wollf, he founded The Club 1943, a cultural association for their fellow German émigrés. In 1944, he published the anthology In Tyrannos (On Tyrants), which portrayed the German movements of freedom and resistance over four centuries. After World War II, he taught at The New School for Social Research in New York, then returned to Germany in 1950 to settle in Hamburg. He continued to write successful plays and screenplays, mostly on the subjects of politics and the abuses of power. Wer weint um Juckenack? (Who Cries for Juckenack?), originally published in 1924, was made into a German television film in 1965. His novel The Witches of Paris (1951) became one of the greatest hits of his later years. Rehfisch was married twice: to Lilli Stadthagen, a psychoanalyst killed by the Nazis, with whom he had two children; and to Antonie Wald from 1942.
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