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Mathematicians Fleeing from Nazi Germany

Book Description

The emigration of mathematicians from Europe during the Nazi era signaled an irrevocable and important historical shift for the international mathematics world. Mathematicians Fleeing from Nazi Germany is the first thoroughly documented account of this exodus. In this greatly expanded translation of the 1998 German edition, Reinhard Siegmund-Schultze describes the flight of more than 140 mathematicians, their reasons for leaving, the political and economic issues involved, the reception of these emigrants by various countries, and the emigrants' continuing contributions to mathematics. The influx of these brilliant thinkers to other nations profoundly reconfigured the mathematics world and vaulted the United States into a new leadership role in mathematics research.

Based on archival sources that have never been examined before, the book discusses the preeminent emigrant mathematicians of the period, including Emmy Noether, John von Neumann, Hermann Weyl, and many others. The author explores the mechanisms of the expulsion of mathematicians from Germany, the emigrants' acculturation to their new host countries, and the fates of those mathematicians forced to stay behind. The book reveals the alienation and solidarity of the emigrants, and investigates the global development of mathematics as a consequence of their radical migration.

An in-depth yet accessible look at mathematics both as a scientific enterprise and human endeavor, Mathematicians Fleeing from Nazi Germany provides a vivid picture of a critical chapter in the history of international science.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright
  4. Contents
  5. Figures and Tables
  6. Preface
  7. Chapter 1 - The Terms “German-Speaking Mathematician,” “Forced,” and “Voluntary Emigration”
  8. Chapter 2 - The Notion of “Mathematician” Plus Quantitative Figures on Persecution
  9. Chapter 3 - Early Emigration
    1. 3.1. The Push-Factor
    2. 3.2. The Pull-Factor
    3. 3.D. Documents
      1. 3.D.1. The Economic Troubles in German Science as a Stimulus to Emigration
      2. 3.D.2. National Isolation, Xenophobia, and Anti-Semitism as European Phenomena
      3. 3.D.3. Personal Risks with Early Emigration
      4. 3.D.4. The Ambiguous Interconnection between Social Hierarchies, Traditions at Home, and Internationalization in Mathematics
      5. 3.D.5. The American Interest in Immigration (Pull-Factor)
      6. 3.D.6. The Start of Economic Problems in America around 1930 Foreshadowing Later Problems Incurred during Forced Emigration
    4. 3.S. Case Studies
      1. 3.S.1. The Failed Appointments of C. Carathéodory and S. Bochner at Harvard
      2. 3.S.2. Early Emigration from Austria as Exemplified by Karl Menger
      3. 3.S.3. The Problems of Early Emigration as Exemplified by Hermann Weyl
  10. Chapter 4 - Pretexts, Forms, and the Extent of Emigration and Persecution
    1. 4.1. The Nazi Policy of Expulsion
    2. 4.2. The Political Position of Mathematicians, Affected and Unaffected by Persecution
    3. 4.D. Documents
      1. 4.D.1. The Pseudo-Legalism of the Methods of Expulsion
      2. 4.D.2. Student Boycotts as a Means of Expelling Unwanted Docents
      3. 4.D.3. The Racist “German Mathematics” (Deutsche Mathematik) of Ludwig Bieberbach as an Ideology Supportive of the Expulsions
      4. 4.D.4. Personal Denunciations as Instruments of Expulsion
      5. 4.D.5. Political Reasons for Emigration beyond Anti-Semitism
      6. 4.D.6. Cheating Emigrants out of Their Pensions
      7. 4.D.7. Increasing Restrictions Imposed upon “Non-Aryan” Students
      8. 4.D.8. Political Position of Emigrants before 1933: German Nationalism, Illusions, and General Lack of Prescience
      9. 4.D.9. First Reactions by the Victims: Readiness to Compromise and to Justify, Adoption of the Martyr’s Role
      10. 4.D.10. The Partial Identity of Interests between the Regime and the “Unaffected” German Mathematicians
      11. 4.D.11. Reactions to the Expulsions from Abroad
  11. Chapter 5 - Obstacles to Emigration out of Germany after 1933, Failed Escape, and Death
    1. 5.D. Documents
      1. 5.D.1. Obstacles to Emigration from Germany
      2. 5.D.2. Unsuccessful Attempts at Emigration, Mathematicians Murdered
  12. Chapter 6 - Alternative (Non-American) Host Countries
    1. 6.D. Documents and Problems Pertaining to the Various—Often Temporary—Host Countries outside of the United States
  13. Chapter 7 - Diminishing Ties with Germany and Self-Image of the Refugees
    1. 7.D. Documents
      1. 7.D.1. Concern for the Fate of Relatives Left Behind
      2. 7.D.2. The Emotional Ties to Germany and to German Mathematics on the Part of the Emigrants
      3. 7.D.3. Maintenance and Gradual Restriction of the Emigrants’ Personal and Scientific Relations to Germany
      4. 7.D.4. Conflicting Opinions on Mathematicians Remaining in Germany and on Those Who Returned in Spite of Chances Abroad
      5. 7.D.5. Political Information, Caution, and Self-Censorship in the Contact between Emigrants and Mathematicians Remaining in Germany
      6. 7.D.6. Condemnation of Former Colleagues’ Commitment to the Nazis by Emigrants
      7. 7.D.7. Self-Selection by Emigrants
    2. 7.S. Case Studies
      1. 7.S.1. Richard Courant’s Gradual Estrangement from Germany
      2. 7.S.2. Concern for the Future of German Applied Mathematics and the Young Generation: Richard von Mises and Theodor von Kármán Supporting Walter Tollmien’s Return to Germany
      3. 7.S.3. Controversial Judgments about the Return of an Established Mathematician to Germany: Eberhard Hopf
      4. 7.S.4. The Lack of Demarcation toward Mathematicians Remaining in Germany: The Example of Gumbel’s Only Partially Successful Book Free Science (1938)
      5. 7.S.5. The Aftereffects of Previous Political Conflicts in Emigration: The Case Rudolf Lüneburg
  14. Chapter 8 - The American Reaction to Immigration Help and Xenophobia
    1. 8.1. General Trends in American Immigration Policies
    2. 8.2. Consequences for the Immigration of Scholars
    3. 8.3. The Relief Organizations, Particularly in the United States
    4. 8.D. Documents
      1. 8.D.1. Competition on the American Job Market and Attempts to Keep the Immigrants away from America
      2. 8.D.2. “Selection” of Immigrants to Be Promoted and Bureaucratic Obstacles on the Part of the Americans
      3. 8.D.3. Special Problems for Female Immigrants
      4. 8.D.4. Political Mistrust on the American Side
      5. 8.D.5. The Priority of Private Foundations and Pure Research Institutions in Helping the Immigrants
      6. 8.D.6. The Restricted Scope and Possibilities Available to the German Mathematicians’ Relief Fund
      7. 8.D.7. Further Motives for Xenophobia: Mental Borders, Anti-Semitism, Differences in the Science Systems, Professional Jealousy
      8. 8.D.8. Decline of Xenophobia in Connection with Political Events on the Eve of World War II
    5. 8.S. Case Studies
      1. 8.S.1. The Case of the Female Emigrant Emmy Noether
      2. 8.S.2. A Case of the Exploitation of Immigrants by an Engineer at Cornell (M. G. Malti)
      3. 8.S.3 Five Case Studies about Academic Anti-Semitism in the USA
        1. 8.S.3.1. Consideration of anti-Semitism in the policies of the relief organizations
        2. 8.S.3.2. Examples of American nationalist and racist propaganda aimed at immigrants
        3. 8.S.3.3. Problems in relationships between assimilated (in particular baptized) and Orthodox Jews in America
        4. 8.S.3.4. The anti-Semitism of George David Birkhoff
        5. 8.S.3.5. Declining academic anti-Semitism in the USA after 1945
  15. Chapter 9 - Acculturation, Political Adation, and the American Entrance into the War
    1. 9.1. General Problems of Acculturation
    2. 9.2. Political Adaptation
    3. 9.3. Problems of Adaptation in Teaching and Research
    4. 9.4. Age-Related Problems and Pensions
    5. 9.5. The Influence of War Conditions
    6. 9.D. Documents
      1. 9.D.1. The General Requirement of “Adaptability”
      2. 9.D.2. Problems Arising from the Loss of Status Due to Emigration and from the Widespread Principle of Seniority in Academic Promotions
      3. 9.D.3. Different Traditions in Teaching and Unfamiliar Teaching Loads
      4. 9.D.4. Extraordinary Solutions for Outstanding Immigrants
      5. 9.D.5. Individualistic European versus Cooperative American Working Style
      6. 9.D.6. Problems of Moral Prudishness in the United States: The Extreme Case of Carl Ludwig Siegel
      7. 9.D.7. Language Problems
      8. 9.D.8. The Need for Publications in the Language of the Host Country
      9. 9.D.9. Support by Immigrants for Economic and Social Reform, in Particular for New Deal Positions
      10. 9.D.10. Pressure to Adapt Politically and Political Mistrust against Immigrants on the Part of the Americans
      11. 9.D.11. Waning Political Restraint on Immigrants after Obtaining American Citizenship and the Impact of the American Entrance into the War
      12. 9.D.12. Personal Failure of Immigrants in the United States, Due to Age- and Pension-Related Problems
    7. 9.S. Case Studies
      1. 9.S.1. The Tragic Fate of a Political Emigrant: Emil Julius Gumbel
      2. 9.S.2. A Case of Failed Accommodation by an Older Immigrant: Felix Bernstein
  16. Chapter 10 - The Impact of Immigration on American Mathematics
    1. 10.1. The “Impact of Immigration” Viewed from Various Global, Biographical, National, or Nonmathematical Perspectives
    2. 10.2. The Institutional and Organizational Impact
    3. 10.3. The Impact of German-Speaking Immigration in Applied Mathematics
    4. 10.4. The Inner-Mathematical Impact of German-Speaking Immigration on the United States
    5. 10.5. The Impact of the “Noether School” and of German Algebra in General
    6. 10.6. Differences in Mentality, the History and Foundations of Mathematics
    7. 10.D. Documents
      1. 10.D.1. The Heterogeneity of the “German-Speaking” Emigration, in Particular Differences between German and Austrian Traditions in Mathematics
      2. 10.D.2. Losses for Germany
      3. 10.D.3. The Profits of Emigration for International Communication
      4. 10.D.4. Impact of the Institutional Side of German Mathematics (Educational System, Libraries)
      5. 10.D.5. The Development of New Mathematical Centers in the United States
      6. 10.D.6. Inner-Mathematical Impact on Individual Disciplines
    8. 10.S. Case Studies
      1. 10.S.1. The Failure of Richard Brauer’s Book on Algebra in 1935, or the Paradoxical Victory of “Talmudic Mathematics” Due to Nazi Rule
      2. 10.S.2. Late American Criticism of “German Algebra,” a Controversy between Garrett Birkhoff and B. L. van der Waerden in the 1970s and Commentary by G.-C. Rota in 1989
  17. Chapter 11 - Epilogue: The Postwar Relationship of German and American Mathematicians
    1. 11.D. Documents
      1. 11.D.1. The New Wave of Emigration after the War
      2. 11.D.2. Remigration and Obstacles to It
      3. 11.D.3. Resumption of Scientific Communication
      4. 11.D.4. Compensation for the Emigrants
      5. 11.D.5. Political “Coping with the Past” (“Vergangenheitsbewältigung”)
    2. 11.S. Case Study
      1. 11.S.1. A Case of Failed Compensation: Max Dehn
  18. Appendix 1 - Lists of Emigrated (after 1933), Murdered, and Otherwise Persecuted German-Speaking Mathematicians (as of 2008)
    1. 1.1 - List of German-Speaking Mathematicians Who Emigrated during the Nazi Period (First Generation)
    2. 1.2 - List of German-Speaking Mathematicians Who Were Murdered or Driven to Suicide by the Nazis
    3. 1.3 - List of German-Speaking Mathematicians Persecuted in Other Manners (Includes Teachers of Mathematics and is Probably Incomplete)
  19. Appendix 2 - Excerpt from a Letter by George David Birkhoff from Paris (1928) to His Colleague-Mathematicians at Harvard Concerning the Possibility of or Desirability to Hire Foreigners
  20. Appendix 3.1 - Report Compiled by Harald Bohr “Together with Different German Friends” in May 1933 Concerning the Present Conditions in German Universities, in Particular with Regard to Mathematics and Theoretical Physics
  21. Appendix 3.2 - Translation of a Letter from Professor Karl Löwner of the University of Prague to Professor Louis L. Silverman (Dartmouth College) Dated August 2, 1933
  22. Appendix 3.3 - Richard von Mises’s “Position toward the Events of Our Time” in November 1933
  23. Appendix 3.4 - Report by Artur Rosenthal (Heidelberg) from June 1935 on the Boycott on His and Heinrich Liebmann’s Mathematical Courses
  24. Appendix 3.5 - Max Pinl—Later Author of the Pioneering Reports (1969–72) on Mathematical Refugees—in a Letter to Hermann Weyl on the Situation in Czechoslovakia Immediately after the Munich Dictate of September 29, 1938
  25. Appendix 4.1 - A Letter by Emmy Noether of January 1935 to the Emergency Committee in New York Regarding Her Scientific and Political Interests during Emigration
  26. Appendix 4.2 - Richard Courant’s Resignation from the German Mathematicians’ Association DMV in 1935
  27. Appendix 4.3 - Von Mises in His Diary about His Second Emigration, from Turkey to the USA, in 1939
  28. Appendix 4.4 - Hermann Weyl to Harlow Shapley on June 5, 1943, Concerning the Problems of the Immigrant from: Göttingen, Felix Bernstein
  29. Appendix 5.1 - Richard Courant in October 1945 to the American Authorities Who Were Responsible for German Scientific Reparation
  30. Appendix 5.2 - Max Dehn’s Refusal to Rejoin the German Mathematicians’ Association DMV in 1948
  31. Appendix 6 - Memoirs for My Children (1933/1988) Peter Thullen
  32. Archives, Unprinted Sources, and Their Abbreviations
  33. References
  34. Photographs Index and Credits
  35. Subject Index
  36. Name Index