Zionist internationalism through number theory: Edmund Landau at the opening of the Hebrew University in 1925

Leo Corry, Norbert Schappacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Argument This article gives the background to a public lecture delivered in Hebrew by Edmund Landau at the opening ceremony of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1925. On the surface, the lecture appears to be a slightly awkward attempt by a distinguished German-Jewish mathematician to popularize a few number-theoretical tidbits. However, quite unexpectedly, what emerges here is Landau's personal blend of Zionism, German nationalism, and the proud ethos of pure, rigorous mathematics - against the backdrop of the situation of Germany after World War I. Landau's Jerusalem lecture thus shows how the Zionist cause was inextricably linked to, and determined by political agendas that were taking place in Europe at that time. The lecture stands in various historical contexts - Landau's biography, the history of Jewish scientists in the German Zionist movement, the founding of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the creation of a modern Hebrew mathematical language. This article provides a broad historical introduction to the English translation, with commentary, of the original Hebrew text.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-441
Number of pages15
JournalScience in Context
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2010

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