Samuel Eilenberg in Polish Jewish Warsaw till 1939
Our knowledge about the social environment of the young Samuel Eilenberg in Warsaw is rather limited. The first task of this presentation is to reconstruct the milieu for the period prior to his mathematical studies at the University of Warsaw. The second goal is to show how Jewish students and young professionals lived in the Polish capital before 1939. They were offered a wide range of high quality educational opportunities. However, their prospects for employment in public institutions remained limited. A rise in anti-Semitic feeling was seen in the years between 1931-1939, which was reflected not only on the streets, but also at the universities. The European political situation added much to the feeling of impending doom. In spite of that, important spheres were opened for intellectual and professional development. Samuel Eilenberg - thanks to his talent and sheer good luck - found his way out the trap closing in on much of the world that created him as a man and a scholar.
Stefan Jackowski (University of Warsaw)
The development of Eilenberg's mathematical talent 1930 – 1939
According to Peter Freyd (Notices AMS) He [Sammy] felt that he had been well nurtured by the Polish community of mathematicians. In my lecture I'll describe his mathematical development from the time that he became a first year student in 1930 until he left Poland nine years later.
An excellent source showing his development is a notebook Eilenberg began in 1930. It starts with solutions of problems in Set Theory, with comments by his teacher Bronislaw Knaster, and ends in 1934 with drafts of early research papers. I'll discuss the content of Eilenberg's masters thesis (1934) and his doctoral dissertation (1936), written under the influence of Karol Borsuk. The interaction of Eilenberg with the Warsaw and the international mathematical community will be considered. I'll survey the results contained in almost 40 papers which Eilenberg published or submitted before leaving Poland in 1939. I'll trace in them some germs of his later famous work.