Felix Hausdorff

The namesake of the International Guest House, Felix Hausdorff, was Professor of Mathematics at the University of Greifswald between 1914 and 1921.

Hausdorff was born in Wrocław on the 8th November 1868 as son of a Jewish textile merchant. In 1871 his family moved to Leipzig. After completing grammar school, Felix Hausdorff studied Mathematics and Astronomy in Berlin, Leipzig and Freiburg. In 1891, at the age of 23, he received his PhD in Leipzig, where he also received his habilitation four years later in Mathematics and Astronomy.  

Hausdorff also worked as a writer and poet in Leipzig, under the pen name of Paul Mongré. A play with the title “Der Arzt seiner Ehre” (The Physician of his Honour) was staged over a hundred times in Berlin and Hamburg. However, mathematics was his real interest and thus in 1910 Hausdorff moved to take up the position of Lecturer of Mathematics at the University of Bonn. In 1913 he received a call for the Chair of Mathematics at the University of Greifswald. It was here that he wrote his magnum opus, “Mengenlehre” (Set Theory), which was published in 1914 in Leipzig. 

After seven years of work in Greifswald, he was appointed a professorship in Bonn in 1921. In 1935 Felix Hausdorff was given emeritus status, but continued to publish. The so-called Reichskristallnacht took place one day after his 70th birthday, on the 9th November 1938.  After the pogroms of November, discrimination increased even further and as a result Hausdorff was refused permission to emigrate. On the 22nd January 1942 he received a summons to appear for displacement to the Endenich concentration camp. Four days later, on the 26th January 1942, he committed suicide together with his wife and sister-in-law.