How one German city developed – and then lost – generations of math geniuses

David Gunderman in The Conversation:

Emmy Noether

There are two things that connect the names Gauss, Riemann, Hilbert and Noether. One is their outstanding breadth of contributions to the field of mathematics. The other is that each was a professor at the same university in Göttingen, Germany.

Although relatively unknown today, Göttingen, a small German university town, was for a time one of the most productive centers of mathematics in history.

Göttingen’s rise to mathematical primacy occurred over generations, but its fall took less than a decade when its stars were pushed abroad by the advent of National Socialism, the ideology of the Nazi Party. The university’s best minds left Germany in the early 1930s, transferring its substantial mathematical legacy to Princeton, New York University, and other British and American universities. By 1943, 16 former Göttingen faculty members were in the U.S.

More here.