Person: Noether (3), Fritz
Fritz Noether was a German mathematician who emigrated from Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union and was later executed by the Stalinist NKVD. He was the son of Max Noether and the brother of Emmy Noether.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Let us note right at the beginning of this biography that although we have given a precise date and place for Fritz's death, there is some doubt about this as we shall relate below.
- Fritz's school education was in Erlangen.
- He spent five semesters at the University of Erlangen where he attended lectures and exercise classes given by Paul Gordan, Max Noether, Eilhard Wiedemann (1852-1928), Rudolf Reiger (1877-1943), Emil Hilb, Ernst Fischer, Kurt Hensel, Hans Lenk (1863-1938), and Hermann Leser (1873-1937).
- Noether was awarded his doctorate in 1909 for his thesis Über rollende Bewegung einer Kugel auf Rotationsflächen.
- A close working relationship between Fritz Noether and A Sommerfeld is indicated by the fact that Part 4 ('Die technischen Anwendungen der Kreiseltheorie' Ⓣ(The technical applications of the centrifugal theory)) in F Klein's and A Sommerfeld's 'Über die Theorie des Kreisels' Ⓣ(On the theory of the gyroscope), published in 1910 by Teubner in Leipzig, bears the notation: "Prepared for publication and supplemented by Fritz Noether." Indeed, Sommerfeld's introductory remarks refer to Fritz Noether as collaborator for this fourth and final part of the Klein and Sommerfeld work on gyroscopes.
- After the award of his doctorate, Noether undertook postdoctoral studies in Göttingen.
- In 1911, after two years at Göttingen, Noether went to Karlsruhe where he was appointed as Karl Heun's assistant at the Technische Hochschule.
- Noether filled the position left vacant by Winkelmann's departure.
- In the summer of 1911, Noether submitted his habilitation thesis Über den Gültigkeitsbereich der Stokesschen Widerstandsformel Ⓣ(About the scope of the Stokes' resistance formula) to the Karlsruhe Technische Hochschule and gained his right to lecture.
- In the early part of the war Noether served on the German-French front but after he was wounded he was sent to undertake research in ballistics.
- After the war ended in 1918, Noether returned to the Karlsruhe Technische Hochschule where he was promoted to extraordinary professor.
- In 1931 Noether presented a chapter on the investigation of the Navier-Stokes equations.
- The reference in this quote to Noether's criticism of Heisenberg's results needs further amplification.
- The thesis was accepted for publication but, at a joint meeting of the German Mathematical Society and the German Engineering Society held in Marburg in September 1923, Noether gave a talk in which he raised objections to Heisenberg's results.
- The published version of Noether's talk is Zur asymptotischen Behandlung der stationären Lösungen im Turbulenzproblem Ⓣ(On asymptotic treatment of the stationary solutions in turbulence problems) (1926).
- Since Noether's work on turbulence rightly had a high reputation, Heisenberg's results were treated with the utmost suspicion after this criticism.
- the paper of Noether, which in his time had made the whole theory of instability suspicious, seems to contain some mistake, but the mistake has not yet been found.
- He clearly satisfied the exemption clause but, on 26 April 1933, a group of students complained to the Rektor of the University of Breslau that having Noether on the staff "in large measure contradict the Aryan principle." The students suggested that Noether, as a Jew, would never work in the national interest.
- Noether protested that of course he was a German who would work for the national interest.
- More importantly for Noether, this would allow him to retain his pension and also his reputation as a loyal German.
- She went to the United States but Fritz Noether decided to go to Russia.
- Emmy Noether died in April 1935 and, later that year on 5 September, Pavel Sergeevich Aleksandrov gave a moving memorial address to the Moscow Mathematical Society calling Emmy Noether "the greatest woman mathematician of all time." Fritz Noether was present in Moscow as a guest of honour to hear Aleksandrov's memorial address.
- Shortly after this, on 2 October, Noether wrote from Tomsk to Helmut Hasse, by this time in Göttingen, concerning the estate of Emmy Noether.
- Noether tells Hasse that Richard Brauer had informed him that he had sent two manuscripts of Emmy Noether's to Hasse, one of which should be considered for publication.
- Noether tells Hasse that he is happy that Hasse decides the journal to which to send the manuscript.
- Noether suggests that Emmy Noether probably destroyed most of her notes before going to the United States and believes that she did not leave anything in Göttingen.
- In July 1936 Noether had attended the International Congress of Mathematicians in Oslo and presented a paper Über elektrische Drahtwellen to Section V, the Mathematics Physics, Astronomy and Geophysics Section.
- We note that Noether appears to have been the only mathematician from the Soviet Union at the Congress.
- Although eleven Soviet participants were listed, only Noether was present at the Congress and none of the others, even the two plenary lecturers Aleksandr Gelfond and Aleksandr Yakovlevich Khinchin, actually attended.
- One assumes that Noether still had a German passport and was able to leave Russia while the others could not.
- For a long time the exact fate of Noether was unknown but his two sons had survived being deported from Russia and given refuge in Sweden before moving on.
- On October 23, 1938 Professor Noether was found guilty of allegedly spying for Germany and committing acts of sabotage and was sentenced in Novosibirsk to 25 years of imprisonment.
- On September 8, 1941 the Military Collegium of the USSR Supreme Court sentenced Professor F Noether to death on the accusation of engaging in anti-Soviet agitation.
- The Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union was signed on 23 August 1939 and one might think that this would have placed Noether in a better position.
- However, Noether was no longer a German citizen by this time since, by Nazi decree, he lost his German citizenship in 1938.
- It appears that all the evidence against Noether and the three Russians accused with him was falsified.
- One must also assume that Noether's death was related to the fact that Germany broke the non-aggression pact on 22 June 1941 and invaded the Soviet Union.
- The reason that the official description of Noether's death is in doubt is due to Savelii Vladimirovich Falkovich (1911-1982).
- met Fritz Noether on the Moscow metro in the late fall of 1941.
- Noether and Falkovich knew each other and Noether told his story about his arrest and tortures in Tomsk NKVD.
- Since he did not come to Tomsk (his son's Gottfried Noether testimony), he most probably was arrested again.
- Finally, let us record that we owe to Fritz Noether the notion of the index of an operator.
Born 7 October 1884, Erlangen, Middle Franconia, Bavaria, Germany. Died 10 September 1941, Orel, Russia.
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive