Rehfisch, Hans Jose

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REHFISCH, HANS JOSE (1891–1960), German playwright. The son of a Berlin physician, Rehfisch was a successful lawyer who turned to literature, publishing many of his works under the pseudonyms Rene Kestner, Sydney Phillips, and Georg Turner. A free-lance writer until 1933, he escaped from the Nazi regime first to Vienna and then to London where he worked in industry. After World War ii he taught at the New School for Social Research in New York (1947–49). He returned to Germany in 1950 and settled in Hamburg. Rehfisch wrote many successful plays mostly dealing with contemporary politics and society. He began his career as an expressionist with the drama Die goldenen Waffen (1913), but soon changed to realistic subject matter. His comedy, Nickel und die 36 Gerechten (1925), was inspired by the Jewish legend of the 36 (*Lamed Vav) Righteous Men.

Among his works most frequently staged were the tragicomedy Wer weint um Juckenack? (1924) and Die Affaire Dreyfus (1929), a historical drama written in collaboration with Wilhelm Herzog. Rehfisch's play Quell der Verheissung (1946) deals with German Jews who settled in Palestine. Oberst Chabert (1955) was a tragedy based on the novel by Balzac. In 1944, he edited the symposium In Tyrranos: 4 Centuries of Struggle against Tyranny in Germany, published by the Emigre 1943 Club. He was twice president of the Union of German Stage Writers and Composers (1931–33; 1951–53). In 1967 his selected works appeared in four volumes, edited by the Eastern German Academy of Arts in Berlin.


F. Lennartz, Deutsche Dichter und Schriftsteller unserer Zeit (19598), 605–9. add. bibliography: H. Ritchie, "Rehfisch in Exile," In: AliensUneingebuergerte (1994), 207–22; J.M. Ritchie, "The Exile Plays of Hans José Rehfisch," in: idem, German Exiles (1997), 146–60.

[Rudolf Kayser]