Erich Kamke

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Erich Kamke

Erich Kamke (born August 18, 1890 in Marienburg , West Prussia , † September 28, 1961 in Rottenburg am Neckar ) was a German mathematician . His main area of ​​work was the theory of differential equations . In addition, his book on set theory has become a standard introduction to this area.


After finishing school in Stettin , Kamke studied mathematics and physics in Gießen and Göttingen from 1909 . In 1913 he passed the state examination for the higher teaching post in Göttingen . After the First World War , which he had experienced as a volunteer in the news force from 1914 , he received his doctorate in 1919 in Göttingen under Edmund Landau on a generalization of Waring-Hilbert's theorem . From 1920 to 1926 Kamke went back to school and was able to do his habilitation in 1922 at the University of Münster . In 1926 he accepted a position as associate professor at the University of Tübingen .

Kamke had married the Jewish merchant's daughter Dora Heimowitch as early as 1918. During the time of National Socialism he was therefore considered to be “ Jewish misbehavior .” Since he was also clearly opposed to National Socialism, he was retired in 1937 for “political reasons”. With the support of the German Research Institute for Aviation , he was able to continue his research work on differential equations in the following years and complete a two-volume work on their solution methods and solutions. Kamke was even in danger of being sent to a National Socialist labor camp in autumn 1944, but this was prevented by the influence of Wilhelm Süss and Walther Gerlach .

Immediately after the end of the Second World War , Kamke was rehabilitated and made a full professor. In the following years he campaigned for the reconstruction of the University of Tübingen and university mathematics in Germany. He was significantly involved in the re-establishment of the Tübingen student union , of which he was chairman from 1945 to 1948, and in the establishment of the university's computer center . He was chairman until 1960. On his initiative, a mathematical congress was held in Tübingen in autumn 1946 - the first scientific conference in Germany after the end of the war - and in 1948 the German Mathematicians Association (DMV) was re-established in Tübingen . Kamke was elected chairman and held this office until 1952. He was then vice-president of the International Mathematical Union from 1952 to 1954 .

One episode that illustrates Kamke's stance on National Socialism is his opposition to Martin Heidegger's appointment to the University of Tübingen. After the end of the war, it was doubtful whether Heidegger could continue to teach at the University of Freiburg due to his National Socialist past. In November 1945, at the instigation of Rudolf Stadelmann , former protégé Heidegger and then dean of the Philosophical Faculty in Tübingen, he was to be appointed to a chair that had become vacant there. The appeal ultimately failed because of the resistance in the university's Senate, which was largely supported by Kamke , which culminated in a special vote by several professors in which Heidegger was accused of having, as a “highly active National Socialist”, a “not insignificant part of the guilt for the current suffering of our people to wear."

Erich Kamke retired in 1958 , he died on September 28, 1961 of a heart attack. He is Detlef Kamke's father .


After his dissertation on a topic from number theory , Kamke turned to analysis and researched mainly in the field of differential equations. In addition to more than 50 articles in mathematical journals, Kamke's scientific work includes six books. The textbooks on differential equations and set theory are now regarded as standard works. Kamke was co-editor of the Mathematische Zeitschrift from 1935 until his death and from 1950 to 1957 editor of the annual reports of the German Mathematicians Association .


  • The Lebesgue integral. An introduction to the newer theory of real functions , BG Teubner, Leipzig 1925.
  • Set theory , Göschen / Walter de Gruyter Collection , Berlin 1928.
  • Differential equations of real functions , Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft, Leipzig 1930; from the 4th (revised) edition 1962 in two volumes:
    • Volume 1: Ordinary Differential Equations.
    • Volume 2: Partial Differential Equations.
  • Introduction to probability theory , S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1932.
  • Differential equations. Solution methods and solutions I. Ordinary differential equations , Leipzig 1942.
  • Differential equations. Solution methods and solutions II. First order partial differential equations for a desired function , Leipzig 1944.
  • The role of mathematics in today's life , Kundig, Genève 1955.
  • The Lebesgue-Stieltjes integral , BG Teubner, Leipzig 1956.


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Stanford Segal Mathematicians under the Nazis , Princeton University Press 2003, p. 106.

Web links

Commons : Erich Kamke  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files