Rabbits Addressed by a Stoat

Stefan Collini

Where would you have found, in 1940, ‘the most elite university in the world in terms of the pool of scholars it contained’? The answer, according to the editors’ introduction to Ark of Civilisation: Refugee Scholars and Oxford University 1930-45, isn’t any of the great institutions that may come to mind, but Hutchinson Camp on the Isle of Man. As the result of a slightly panicky policy of interning ‘enemy aliens’ after the fall of France, large numbers of refugee German scholars – most but not all of whom were Jewish – found themselves in this unlikely spot. They immediately set about giving lectures and conducting seminars. Activities for the week beginning 21 October 1940, for instance, included Dr Unger on ‘Greek Philosophy: Plato (continued)’, Mr Stadler on ‘History of Medieval Culture (continued)’, and Professor Marx, ‘Study Group on Goethe’. The exiled journalist Rudolf Olden was also interned there, and ‘in the exceptionally fine summer of 1940’ delivered ‘memorable political analyses on the Hutchinson Square lawns to audiences of 300-400’.

The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

You are not logged in