Dr. Paul Oestreicher, first Humboldt Fellow from New Zealand

Dr. Paul  Oestreicher was  born in 1931  in Meiningen,  Thuringen. His
father,  a Jewish  pediatrician, took  his  family into  exile in  New
Zealand in 1939.  Paul has a BA in Politics and German from Otago that
he  completed in  1953  and an  MA  (Hons) in  Politics (Victoria)  in
1955. The  MA Thesis was entitled “History  of Conscientious Objectors
to  World  War II  in  NZ”. His  supervisor  at  Victoria was  General
Kippenburger  who  had lost  both  feet  at  Monte Casino.  The  young
pacifist and the retired general became friends.
ostPresident of the NZ Humboldt Association, Dr Andrew Matthews with  Canon Dr Paul Oestreicher recently in Wellington

Envoy and authorised Minister  of the German Government, Erich Boltze,
established the  German Embassy in New  Zealand in late  1953. He then
quickly  promoted  the  new   Alexander  von  Humboldt  Foundation  to
universities  around  New  Zealand.  When  Paul  Osetreicher’s  father
learned of this opportunity, he  asked Minister Boltze whether his son
might qualify.  Bolzte was unsure but  sent a copy  of Paul’s Master’s
thesis from  Victoria to AvH  in Bonn. Bonn  came back with  the reply
that  had  such  a  thesis  ((book) been  submitted  in  Germany,  the
applicant would have easily qualified for a doctorate. AvH asked where
Paul would like  to study? Having read in Wellington  a copy of Helmut
Gollwitzers’ book “Unwilling journey”, Paul immediately suggested that
he would  like to join Gollwitzer’s  group in the  Theological Dept at
the University  in Bonn.  Gollwitzer was approached  and was  happy to
accept  Oestreicher,  even  without  a  doctorate!  The  problem  was,
however, that Oestreicher had a degree in political science and not in
theology. Fortunately, a flexible Department of Social Science allowed
Paul to enrol with them but to work in the Dept. of Theology.

From Bonn Paul went to England and spent 2 years studying to become an
Anglican priest and as his bio  shows, went on to build an illustrious
career in the peace movement,  including being a founding President of
Amnesty   International  and   then   Director  of   the  Centre   for
International  Reconciliation at  Coventry  Cathedral. He  holds a  DD
(Lambeth), Hon LLD Sussex, Hon DLitt (Coventry) and Hon DD (Otago] and
has  been awarded  the Bundesverdienstkreuz  1. Klasse.  In  1992 Paul
needed a break from the day to day stressof human rights and peace and
approached the  Alexander von Humboldt  Foundation to ask if  he could
claim the  2nd year from the  Fellowship in Bonn in  1955/56, 37 years
later.  The answer  was  certainly  yes. So  in  1992/93, Paul  joined
Prof.  Marquardt at  the Institute  of Religious  Studies at  the Free
University of Berlin working on Church-State relations in the GDR.

Paul  is married  to a  New Zealander,  Prof Barbara  Einhorn,  who is
Emeritus  Professor of  Gender Studies  at the  University  of Sussex,
UK. She  is also a  graduate of the  University of Otago, and  wrote a
doctoral thesis on ‘The Novel in the GDR 1949-1969’. She was awarded a
DAAD scholarship in 1964 and became  one of the first holders from New
Zealand. Paul  was one of the  people who worked to  free Prof Einhorn
when  in 1983  she was  imprisoned  in the  DDR for  her contact  with
Women’s Groups.

As  Emeritus Canon  from Coventry  Cathedral, Paul  and  Barbara split
their year between the UK, Germany and New Zealand.