Sir Otto Kahn Freund (Professor of Law, 1951–1964)

kahn freund, otto

Sir Otto Kahn-Freund was one of the great figures in the history of the Department.  From 1933 to 1964, he was successively a student and a member of the academic staff of the Law Department. He came to this country as a refugee from Nazi oppression at the age of 33, after a distinguished academic and professional career in Germany, where he had been a Judge specialising in labour law. Yet he adjusted to the British way of life with incredible rapidity. Admitted directly to the LL.M. course at the School, in less than two years he had made himself so well equipped in English law that he was offered and accepted an Assistant Lectureship in the Law Department.  On the outbreak of World War II he and his wife were interned for some months as “enemy aliens”.  On their release he rejoined the depleted staff at the School and, when the School was evacuated to Peterhouse, Cambridge, he and Lance Beales were pre-eminent among the small band of teachers who maintained its unique character and reputation. He also undertook an immense amount of war-work - broadcasting for the BBC's European Service, journalism and lecturing to the forces- roles in which he somewhat reluctantly adopted an Anglicised nom de guerre.  In 1951 he became a full Professor, a post which he held until 1964 when he accepted the Chair of Comparative Law at Oxford.  The School remained Otto's great love and his continued association with it as an Honorary Fellow probably gave him even greater joy than his eight Honorary Doctorates, his Knighthood, his fellowship of the British Academy, his Silk, his Honorary Benchership pf his Inn of Court, and the many other honours that came his way.