H. Maehler, Berlin Papyri in the 1960's
Herwig Maehler kindly responded to my questions about the Berlin papyrus collection post WWII until the end of the 1960's. One question turned out not be relevant to papyrology, so I omit it for the time being. I will add more when I am home again in few days' time. There is also information on the Trismegistos: Collections site.(1)During WWII, the collection of papyri, a Department of the Egyptian Museum, was stored in boxes in various locations in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany to protect it from air raids. After the war, those parts of the collection which were in what was to become East Germany (DDR),where taken to Moscow and returned to the Bode Museum in East Berlin in 1958. Only a small number of mummy cartonnages remained in Rolf Ibscher’s villa in Klein-Machnow (south of Berlin, near Potsdam) for conservation; these were handed over to the East Berlin Academy in 1950 and produced most of the texts in BGU X of 1970 (see Wolfgang Müller’s Preface). The boxes stored in West Germany and assembled, together with objects of many other museums, in Wiesbaden, were sent to West Berlin in the early 60s. It so happened that nearly all of that material was still in the old tin boxes in which it had been shipped from Egypt, so conservation and restoration was a top priority. This began in 1963, in a very provisional depository close to the railway station Berlin-Zoo. In 1964, the Egyptologist Helmut Satzinger and I were hired to work on Coptic and Greek texts respectively (he started few months before me, in July 1964; I started on 1st October). When the new Egyptian Museum in Charlottenburg was opened in 1967, the first part of BGU XI was published; part 2 followed in 1968, together with Satzinger’s BKU III.
(2) I took my PhD at Hamburg in 1961, then went to Oxford on a British Council scholarship (1961-2). for training in Papyrology with Peter Parsons. In 1964, my supervisor, Bruno Snell, recommended me to Werner Kaiser, then director of the new Egyptian Museum in West Berlin. (It was Snell who got me interested in papyri).
(5) Inventory numbers: In order to avoid double numbering and confusion, it was agreed between Wolfgang Müller (Director, Bode Muaeum), Günter Poethke and me that the West Berlin collection shpould start numbering at 21000, because at the time, inventory numbers in East Berlin went up to just above 18000 and it was anticipated that they would not rise above 21000 in the foreseeable future (there was always hope, on both sides of the Wall, that one day the two halves of the collection would be reunited). The agreement was never made formally because the communist regime did not tolerate agreements with West Berlin institutions such as the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (to which the public museums and the Staatsbibliothek belong).