Person: Grünbaum, Branko
Branko Grünbaum was a Jewish Croatian mathematician who survived the Nazi invasion, later escaped to Israel where he obtained his doctorate, and had most of his career in the United States. He was a prolific author writing over 250 papers and four very influential books.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- One of the workers at the sawmill was a German and he played with young Branko and taught him German.
- Branko, who had wanted to leave the country for several years, became even more determined to do so but this was not possible.
- Very few Jews were left in Osijek by the end of the war in 1945 and Branko frequently met up with seven other Jewish High School students.
- In 1948 Grünbaum, unhappy with the Communist government, wanted to leave Yugoslavia and he also wanted to marry Zdenka.
- Grünbaum, however, felt it might be a trick to identify 'trouble makers', so did not register.
- The Jews who had registered for the ship to Israel left and Grünbaum realised it was not a trick.
- Branko worked for a textile machinery firm and Zdenka was able to continue her schooling.
- Both Branko and Zdenka tried to learn Hebrew and, in October 1950, at age 21, Branko Grünbaum was able to begin his studies of mathematics at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
- Grünbaum was awarded an M.Sc. in 1954.
- Grünbaum was by this time undertaking research for his Ph.D. advised by Aryeh Dvoretzky.
- In 1957 Branko Grünbaum submitted his thesis, On Some Properties of Minkowski Spaces (Hebrew) and was awarded a Ph.D. He continued his army service until 1958 and by this time, despite three years of military service, he had eleven papers in print.
- A scholarship allowed Grünbaum to spend from September 1958 to June 1960 at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, USA.
- While in Seattle, Grünbaum accepted a position at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
- Grünbaum had two possible places in North America which were particularly attractive because of his interest in geometry, the University of Toronto where Donald Coxeter was a professor, and the University of Washington in Seattle where he could work with Victor Klee.
- Branko, Zdenka and Ram were "lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence on February 1, 1968." Ram petitioned to become a naturalised citizen on 1 October 1971 and had his name changed to Rami.
- Branko and Zdenka petitioned to become naturalised citizens on 6 June 1973.
- Unfortunately, Branko caught them using the bad one again a few years later, but a follow up letter from him on the question seems to have permanently resolved the issue.
- We mentioned above some of the honours that were awarded to Grünbaum.
- Gordon Williams undertook research for a Ph.D. advised by Grünbaum.
- Zdenka Grünbaum died in her sleep on 28 December 2015.
- Branko Grünbaum survived her by three years, dying in 2018 a few weeks before his 89th birthday.
Born 2 October 1929, Osijek, Yugoslavia (now Croatia). Died 14 September 2018, Seattle, USA.
View full biography at [MacTutor](https://mathshistory.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Grunbaum/
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive