Obituary: Uwe Kitzinger 1928-2023

William E. Paterson |


‘The original European in the UK, certainly the best known’ – William E Paterson

‘Uwe and zest are inseparable’  – David Butler


Uwe Kitzinger at the UACES Annual Conference in Passau.

The death of Uwe Kitzinger in May marks the end of an era. Uwe was the leading advocate of British membership in the then EEC and he continued this advocacy through Brexit till his death. He had developed the skill of advocacy as President of the Oxford Union and his advocacy was expressed first in his enormously influential book ’The Challenge of the Common Market‘ (B. Blackwell, 1962) and in a raft of later books and speeches. Uwe’s most lasting contribution was to found the Journal of Common Market Studies in 1962. His death is the end of an era in a second sense. With the recent death of Peter Pulzer and Uwe’s death, the line of distinguished academic refugees from the German-speaking area who arrived in Britain as children has come to an end. 

Uwe was born in Nuremberg in 1928 where his father was a banker and his mother had academic interests. Aided by a Jewish relative the family made their escape to the United Kingdom in July 1939. He had a brilliant school career at Watford Grammar and proceeded to Oxford where he took a First in PPE. He then became the sole British economist at the Council of Europe. From 1962 he was a Fellow of Nuffield College. Later, he was to serve as adviser to Sir Christopher Soames, the British Vice President of the Commission, and in a range of academic posts at INSEAD, Harvard, and Templeton College Oxford. His first Harvard appointment in 1969 was to replace Henry Kissinger who had left to advise President Nixon.  

In those days, doctorates were not the rule and Uwe’s first publication ’German Electoral Politics (OUP, 1960) a Study of the 1957 Campaign’ was the first of its kind in English as there were very few German studies. Despite the book being well received, Uwe never returned to the study of German Politics and concentrated on European Integration. His book ‘The Challenge of the Common Market’ (Blackwells, 1962) was an enormous public success and framed the debate surrounding British entry. Later books followed on like ‘Diplomacy and Persuasion’ (Thames and Hudson, 1973) and a well-regarded study of ‘The 1975 Referendum’ (Macmillan, 1976), a collaboration with David Butler which appeared in the prestigious Nuffield Series. These books were historically accurate and well written but were not theoretically informed. In common with other British books of the early period they were essentially the works of advocacy.  

Through his Presidency of the Oxford Union, Uwe was a well-known figure in Oxford. This together with his first book on the EEC gave him the confidence to call on Basil Blackwell in his office in Oxford to suggest starting the Journal of Common Market Studies. Terms were quickly agreed, and the Journal was launched. Uwe was the original editor, and a number of Oxford postgraduates were recruited to help. The timing coinciding with the start of British attempts at entry was serendipitous. It was the first major journal in the area and it is alone in having tracked all the debates in the area since the beginning. When I became Chairman of UACES in 1989, it was clear to me that continued reliance on EU funding was not a viable model. The European Institutions were becoming increasingly reluctant to fund academic associations and it was obvious to me that Europe was about to change fundamentally. My concern was that a more securely funded association would move into the space which we had owned. 

I believed that the solution lay in making an offer for Uwe’s share in the JCMS. UACES was already involved in the journal through Eva Evans’s work (Executive Secretary at the time) in charge of reviews and the members’ subscription to the Journal. Uwe responded very generously in accepting our offer. The income from the Journal has had a transformational effect on the Association and my successors in the Chair have developed numerous schemes which rely on the funds accrued from the JCMS. A number of these schemes benefit younger members, a choice which would have pleased Uwe. 

We remain eternally grateful to Uwe. Without his launch and sale of the Journal, UACES would never have enjoyed the continuing success it has. Uwe remained a committed European to the end and was pushed in his wheelchair by his daughter Celia on the great anti-Brexit marches. Uwe died in Bages in the south of France on 16th May 2023 and is buried there. 


In grateful memory, 

William E Paterson (UACES Chair 1989-94, Co-editor of the Journal of Common Market Studies 2003-2008)