Adolf Abraham Halevi Fraenkel

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Abraham Fraenkel (between 1939 and 1949)

Adolf Abraham Halevi Fraenkel , mostly quoted from Abraham Fraenkel ( Hebrew אברהם הלוי פרנקל; * February 17, 1891 in Munich ; † October 15, 1965 in Jerusalem ), was a German-Israeli mathematician .


He was the first of five children of the Jewish wool merchant Sigmund Fraenkel and his wife Charlotte from Munich.



From the age of five he learned Hebrew from a private teacher and first attended a primary school in Munich, then the humanistic Luitpold-Gymnasium , where in July 1909 he passed the Abitur in all subjects with "very good".

Like most students of his time, he studied at several universities. He spent a few semesters at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich , in Marburg , where he heard Kurt Hensel , Ernst Richard Neumann and Ernst Hellinger , and in Berlin at the Friedrich Wilhelms University with HA Schwarz , Georg Frobenius and Friedrich Schottky . He spent his final year at the University of Wroclaw . In 1914 Fraenkel - back in Marburg - received his doctorate with the top grade summa cum laude for his dissertation on the divisors of zero and the decomposition of rings .

Although he did military service from 1914 to 1918, he was able to complete his habilitation in 1916. The title of his habilitation thesis was About certain areas and the extension of rings . During a home leave from the French front on July 12, 1916, he held his inaugural lecture at the philosophical faculty of the University of Marburg .

In 1919 he married Wilhelmina Malka A. Prins (1892–1983), with whom he - because of the housing shortage in post-war Germany - lived for a few years as a sublet at Hensel's.

Time in Kiel and retirement to Jerusalem

In 1928 Fraenkel left Marburg to take up a position at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel . From 1929 to 1930 he taught as a visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem , which had been founded four years earlier . In 1931 he returned to Kiel.

On April 25, 1933 Fraenkel was given leave of absence because he was considered a Jew under the law to restore the civil service , although an exception was supposed to protect him as a former combatant. The application for leave of absence, which he himself submitted one day later, was granted on September 9th. At the same time, he made efforts to return to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His application to relocate was approved in October 1933.

Since he no longer received a salary from the end of 1933, the time in Jerusalem was initially difficult. The remuneration paid from 1934 onwards was hardly sufficient, especially since the remuneration for his children was not applicable because they did not receive a German education. In addition, his wages were transferred to a German blocked mark account, which was expensive to use from Jerusalem.

In 1938 Fraenkel became rector of the university and held this office until 1940. As a professor, he not only set the tone for the development of the university, but also dedicated himself to the Israeli education system. For many years he was chairman of the commission for higher education established by the university and the Israeli Ministry of Education. In this function he examined new schools and taught at almost all of the high schools that existed at the time.

He had changed his name to Abraham Halevi Fraenkel .

After the war, Fraenkel was listed as Emeritus at Kiel University and received the remuneration due to him from the Schleswig-Holstein Ministry of Finance from 1934 in January 1957. Two years later he was also retired in Jerusalem.

Professional activity

Already at the age of 19 Fraenkel published in the journal for pure and applied mathematics the study The calculation of Easter and then the Easter calculation according to the Gregorian calendar and Le calcul de la date de Pâques .

Fraenkel became world famous for his work on set theory : The introduction to set theory , his first important work on the subject, which he later translated into English and Hebrew, he wrote during his war deployment on the Western Front in 1917/18. It was published by J. Springer in 1919. He later followed up on the work of Ernst Zermelo and optimized the Zermelo set theory of 1907, especially by adding the substitution axiom in 1921 , which became an integral part of the Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory that is relevant today .

Awards and honors


  • Introduction to set theory , Springer, Berlin, 1919. Further extended editions: 1923, 1928.
  • On the basics of Cantor-Zermeloschen set theory , 1921, in: Mathematische Annalen 86 (1922) pp. 230-237 (therein the axiom of substitution)
  • About the term "definitely" and the independence of the axiom of choice , in: Sitz. Ber. Prussia. Akad. Wiss. (Math. Klasse), 1922, pp. 253-257
  • Ten lectures on the fundamentals of set theory , Teubner, Leipzig, 1927. Reprint: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, 1972.
  • Abstract set theory , North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1953. Second edition 1966.
  • Circles of life. From the memories of a Jewish mathematician , Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1967 Stuttgart
  • (with Yehoshua Bar-Hillel ): Foundations of Set Theory , 1958. Second edition with Azriel Levy , North Holland, 1973.


  • Y. Bar-Hillel, EIJ Poznanski et al. a. (Ed.): Essays on the Foundation of Mathematics, Dedicated to AA Fraenkel, on his Seventieth Anniversary , The Magnus Press u. Hebrew University. Jerusalem 1961 and Amsterdam 1962.
  • Maximilian Pinl: Colleagues in a Dark Time , JDMV Vol. 3, 1971/72. Pp. 153-181. Online at

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Abraham Halevy (Adolf) Fraenkel. , accessed on August 27, 2013 .
  2. a b Pinl: Colleagues in a dark time. III. Part , 1971/72, p. 179.
  3. a b Pinl: Colleagues in a dark time. III. Part , 1971/72, p. 180.
  4. ^ List of the 1956 award winners., accessed on August 27, 2013 (Hebrew).