Person: Remak, Robert Erich
Robert Remak was a German mathematician. He worked in group theory as well as algebraic number theory, mathematical economics and geometry of numbers. He died in Auschwitz.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Also called Robert Remak, and now known as Robert Remak Sr. (1815-1865), he was awarded his habilitation from the University of Berlin in 1847 and, with support from Alexander von Humboldt, he went on to be appointed as a docent in the medical faculty.
- They had two sons, one of whom was Ernst Julius Remak (1849-1911) who became a physician and, in 1902, became an extraordinary professor of neurology at the University of Berlin.
- Although his doctorate was awarded in 1911, it was a long and difficult road for Remak to be awarded his habilitation.
- However, finally, on 11 January 1929, Remak (who had received his doctorate in 1911) was accepted on his third attempt.
- Let us look at Remak's problems in a little more detail.
- In Berlin he had annoyed Max Planck so much that Planck strongly objected to Remak habilitating and this was the main reason that his habilitation thesis was rejected in 1919 and 1923.
- Everybody was afraid to be seen together with Remak in the streets.
- Hilbert discussed with a small circle of his colleagues the question whether he could prevent Remak attending all his lectures and seminars.
- But the esteem for Remak among experts continued.
- Remak was known throughout the city.
- A great commotion arose just as the professor was entering the lecture-hall and he reported Remak as being the cause of the disturbance.
- The Rector expelled Remak from the University of Göttingen.
- Remak returned to Berlin and eventually, in 1928, his habilitation thesis On minimal invariant subgroups in the theory of finite groups was accepted by the examining committee consisting of Issai Schur and Erhard Schmidt.
- On 11 January 1929, he was given the right to teach at the university by Richard von Mises who insisted that Remak was only permitted to teach pure mathematics.
- The same year 1929 was one in which Remak published an essay on applications of mathematics to economics.
- In this work Remak is far sighted in seeing the applications that computers would have in the subject, but these were areas into which is was unwise for someone like Remak to be venturing in Germany at this time.
- Remak made important contributions to algebraic number theory.
- Further papers by Remak on finite algebraic number fields with unit defect appeared in Compositio Mathematica in 1952 and 1954.
- Under this law, Remak lost the right to teach at the university in September 1933.
- Remak did not leave Berlin at this time, however, and he continued to live in the city and continued with his mathematical research.
- On the Kristallnacht (so called because of the broken glass in the streets on the following morning), the 9-10 November 1938, Remak was arrested.
- One can imagine what this means, also because it is clear that due to his character, Remak is incapable of adapting in any way.
- The poor (and very clumsy) Mrs Remak desperately tries to achieve something to this effect.
- Hertha Remak wrote to Weyl on 20 January 1939 telling him that Remak had returned from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and was back in Berlin with a temporary permit for the Netherlands.
- also Remak's expression "then I'd rather go to a concentration camp" has infuriated enough people already.
- On Tuesday 10 November 1942 Remak was put into a wagon on a train bound for Auschwitz.
Born 14 February 1888, Berlin, Germany. Died 13 November 1942, Auschwitz, Poland.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Group Theory, Origin Germany
Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive