Helmut Pappe on Sismondi
Helmut Otto Pappe was born on 29 January 1907 in Liegnitz and died at Brighton in 1998. He gained his doctorate in Germany, where he met his wife Wera Kreig. In 1939 he and Wera escaped Nazi Germany to start a life in New Zealand. Pappe remained in New Zealand for over 10 years, working for C. W. F. Hamilton & Co. Ltd (selling industrial machinery), whilst continuing to write academically for personal interest. Between 1949 and 1951 Pappe began to apply for university posts in Australia and England before being accepted (after an invitation and recommendation by close friend Asa Briggs) at the University of Sussex.
Although Pappe was employed as a lecturer in sociology it is clear from the handwritten notes in his manuscripts that his academic interests lay in intellectual history broadly defined, encompassing history, philosophy, law and economic theory. Pappe was one of several faculty who contributed to the foundation of intellectual history as a distinctive subject at the University of Sussex.
Pappe’s major scholarly interest was the study of the life and works of Jean-Charles-Léonard Simonde de Sismondi. Two of his published works concern Sismondi, Sismondi’s Weggenossen (Genève Broche, 1963) and anedition of Sismondi’s Statistique du Departement du Leman (Droz, 1971). Since the publication of Sismondi’s Weggenossen he had been planning a new biography of Sismondi intended both to replace J. R. Salis’s Sismondi, 1775-1842: la vie et l'oeuvre d'un cosmopolite philosophe (1932) and to give a fuller view of Sismondi’s influence, particularly over significant luminaries of nineteenth-century European thought. Among the papers he left to the University of Sussex were transcriptions of Sismondi’s mother’s and sister’s diaries, three chapters of the biography describing Sismondi’s life up to 1800, and some miscellaneous papers, destined for the second volume of the biography, describing Sismondi’s relationships with his contemporaries.