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The forgotten mathematician Henry Lowig (1904–1995). (English) Zbl 1251.01004

Dějiny Matematiky / History of Mathematics 52. Prague: Matfyzpress (ISBN 978-80-7378-203-0/pbk). 279 p., open access (2012).
Heinrich Löwig (1904-1995, later during emigration called “Henry Lowig”) was mentioned in Bourbaki’s “Elements of the History of mathematics” for his work in Hilbert space theory “casting off the restrictions of ‘separability’ ...around 1934.” This accomplishment was recognized by John von Neumann, who tried to help him – alas without success – to emigration from Czechoslovakia around 1939, when the country was occupied by the Nazis. Löwig was half-Jewish by Nazi-definition and survived occupation only after having several camps with forced labor, which gravely hampered his career. After the war he emigrated to Tasmania (Australia) and finally to Edmonton in Canada, not having found support in his home country.
The biography of the German-Czech mathematician, which is a translation of a book in Czech from the same year 2012, contains chapters on Löwig’s work in functional equations, functional analysis and algebra, written by colleagues of the editor and main author. The latter has collected a wealth of information from Czech archives and from private possession. An appendix of almost 100 pages contains reproductions in color of many portraits and documents. Additional biographical sources for Löwig which have not been used in the book and which document his unsuccessful attempt to reach the UK in the 1930s are in the files of the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. The SPSL helped him finally to reach Tasmania in 1947.
This is a valuable contribution to the life and work of a mathematician who due to miserable political conditions and criminal Nazi policies has not found much attention in the historiography of mathematics so far.

MSC:

01A60 History of mathematics in the 20th century
01A70 Biographies, obituaries, personalia, bibliographies
46-03 History of functional analysis

Biographic References:

Lowig, Henry
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