Alexander Weinstein

21 January 1897 to 6 November 1979

Alexander Weinstein, University of Breslau, Anmeldungs buch, Werner Weissenberg, Summer semester 1930

Mathematician Alexander Weinstein was born in Russia, and studied at the universities of Würzburg and Göttingen during 1913 and 1914. Over the next few years Weinstein worked at universities in a number of European cities. By 1933 he was working at the University of Breslau.

In terms of Werner Weissenberg’s studies at Breslau, in whose paperwork I found reference to Weinstein, the university handbook for 1930/31 states that his professor was living on Kaiser Wilhelm Straße at this time, as can be seen from the extract below.

Alexander Weinstein, University of Breslau, handbook, 1930/31
Alexander Weinstein, Kaiser Welhelmstraße, Breslau, 1931

The central area of Wilhelm Straße can be seeing the map extract above, although it is a long street that crosses much of the main area of the city, and at the moment I do not know at which end of the street number 186 would have been found.

In the next entry in the Breslau handbook for 1930/31, Weinstein is listed as a teacher on the mathematics seminars, as seen below. He holds, at this stage, an appointment as a ‘Priv. -Doz’ – a Privatdozent. According to Wikipedia, this refers to ‘a lecturer who received fees from his students rather than a university salary … most university professors who were appointed were title holders, as they had obtained a Habilitation [the qualification for university teaching in Germany, needed for a professorship] and already held a teaching position.’ It can also be seen here that he taught alongside Rademacher and Radon.

Alexander Weinstein, University of Breslau, department of mathematics, handbook, 1930/31

In the following handbook extract, Weinstein is shown to have been teaching analytical geometry II, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 9am to 10am. He also taught exercises in analytical geometry II on Fridays from 5pm to 7pm.

Alexander Weinstein, Department of mathematics, University of Breslau, handbook 1930/31

The final listing for this academic year is given below, and shows that Weinstein was teaching the Theory of Relativity for two periods, by arrangement. Presumably these were private classes, given his Privatdozent status, explained above.

Alexander Weinstein, Department of mathematics, University of Breslau, handbook 1930/31

In the early 1930s, Einstein was seeking to work with Weinstein on a project in Berlin. However, with the introduction of the National Socialist laws of 1933, Weinstein, who was Jewish, was forced to forego the opportunity to work with Einstein and had leave the country for a post in Paris. However, by 1940 France was no longer safe either, and the next move was to the USA, where he was to work at universities in New York, Maryland and Georgetown. He retired in 1967.

According to O’Connor and Robertson (1997), Weinstein is perhaps best known for his work on boundary values: he solved Helmholtz’s problem for jets, for example, giving the first uniqueness and existence theorems for free jets. He also explored boundary problems in an infinite strip, which had hydrodynamic and electromagnetic applications. He introduced a new branch of potential theory and applied the results to many different situations, including flow about a wedge, the flow around lenses and the flow around spindles.

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', available online at the University of Wrocław.

The map extract is from the excellent