25.11.2011 28.Cheschwan. 5772
A new exhibition at Beth Hatefutsoth aims to set the record straight about the contributions of – and injustices done to – Jewish mathematicians in wartime Germany.
The string quartet that performed one night last week at Beth Hatefutsoth Museum of the Jewish Diaspora – played a work by the German-Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn. The violin whose sounds filled the hall that night once belonged to Georg Pick, a well-known Jewish mathematician from Vienna. He is best known for his eponymous formula, which concerns the connection between number theory and geometry, and he was said to have played this instrument along with his friend Albert Einstein, who also played the violin.
On July 13, 1942, Pick was deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp; two weeks later he died there, at the age of 82. Dr. Ruti Ungar, an Israeli historian who lives in Germany, brought this violin especially for the opening of the new exhibition she has curated, which is called "Transcending Tradition: Jewish Mathematicians in German-Speaking Academic Culture," and which is on through December 14. Ungar's grandfather, Herbert Ungar, was a friend of Pick's. A few days before Pick was sent to his death, he gave Ungar the violin. Herbert Ungar survived the Holocaust and hid the instrument until the war ended….