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The University of Berlin from Reopening until 1953

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When the University of Berlin — only in 1949 to be named after the Humboldt brothers — resumed its activities on January 29, 1946, not one of its renowned mathematicians of the 1920s and 1930s was still in office. Many prominent mathematicians, among them the full professors Richard von Mises and Issai Schur, had been expelled by the Nazis; the latter had died meanwhile in Palestine. The most outspoken supporters of Hitler’s regime among the mathematicians had been dismissed and arrested (L. Bieberbach), had died in the turmoils immediately after the war (Th. Vahlen), had committed suicide (H. Geppert), or had been killed as war volunteers (O. Teichmüller). The applied mathematician A. Klose had been sent to the Soviet Union for reparation work. The co-founder of functional analysis, Erhard Schmidt, who had been politically moderate during the Nazi years without openly resisting the regime, did not return to the university until late 1946. The algebraist Hermann Ludwig Schmid — by his own testimony “the only German mathematician in Berlin who gained a docentship between 1933 and 1945 without joining the Nazi party” — tried to resume teaching as early as May 1945. Initially he operated from a Western sector of Berlin, soon to be occupied by the Americans, where the bigger part of the mathematical institute had been moved due to the war-related demolitions in the East. The relocated mathematical library came back to Berlin in late 1945. Running the institute from West Berlin created additional problems given the growing political tension between the Western and Eastern parts of Berlin.


  • Western Zone
  • Science Functionary
  • German Mathematician
  • Weimar Republic
  • Nazi Party

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Siegmund-Schultze, R. (1998). The University of Berlin from Reopening until 1953. In: Begehr, H., Koch, H., Kramer, J., Schappacher, N., Thiele, EJ. (eds) Mathematics in Berlin. Birkhäuser, Basel.

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  • Publisher Name: Birkhäuser, Basel

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-7643-5943-0

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