Wolfgang Sternberg

20th December 1887 to 23rd April 1953

Wolfgang Sternberg, signature, University of Breslau 1932

Mathematician Wolfgang Sternberg studied at Freiburg university from 1906 before moving to the University of Breslau. His gained his PhD (supervisor Adolf Kneser) at Breslau in 1912 (‘Die Entwicklung willkürlicher Funktionen in der mathematischen Physik mittels der Methode der Integralgleichungen’). Sternberg also worked for a time at Göttingen and Heidelberg before gaining a professorship back at Breslau in 1929.

In this extract from the university handbook for 1930, we can see Sternberg’s address, below; this road can be seen in the map extract, below.

Wolfgang Sternberg, University of Breslau handbook, 1930
Lohenstein Straße, Breslau 1931 Source fotopolska.eu

In the next handbook extract below, we can see that Sternberg taught probability calculations, with application to actuarial mathematics, on Wednesdays and Fridays, from 10am to 11am; the time is subject to change. He also taught exercises on the calculation of veracity (trans?), on Mondays from 9am to 10am. Finally here, he taught Introduction to algebra for beginners, on Mondays 10am to 11am, Thursdays 12pm to 1pm, with times subject to change.

Walter Sternberg, University of Breslau handbook, 1930

Sternberg is listed as a member of the Breslau synagogue (see image below) in 1933. This shows his address at Kaiser Wilhelmstrasse 154.

Breslau Synagogue address list, 1933, Source: Central Jewish Library online

According to Reinhard Siegmund-Schultze, a book Sternberg submitted for publication on the calculus of probability had been accepted for publication by Vieweg, but they backed out of publishing work by a non-Aryan author in 1934.

In 1935 Sternberg had to leave Breslau under the race laws now in place throughout Germany; he left for Prague in the first place, and then for the USA in 1939. He worked at Cornell university until his retirement in 1948.

Sternberg is perhaps best known for his work on potential theory and differential equations and their applications to physics.


All black and white extracts on this page are from the 'Vorlesungs und Personal Verzeichnis der Schlesischen Friedrich Wilhelms Universität zu Breslau Winter Semester 1930/1931', and the equivalent handbook for 1935-1936, available online at the University of Wrocław.

The map extract is from the excellent fotopolska.eu.