Antoni Maria Emilian Hoborski

Quick Info

1 April 1879
Tarnów, Galicia, Austrian Empire (now Poland)
9 February 1940
Sachsenhausen, Emsland, Germany

Antoni Hoborski was a Polish mathematician who played a large role in developing mathematics in Poland between World War I and World War II. He wrote important Polish language textbooks.


Antoni Hoborski was the son of Antoni Hoborski (died 1891), a Polish lieutenant colonel in the Austrian army, and Maria Mühldorf (died 1930), who was from a German family. Let us comment at this point that, although we have listed Antoni Hoborski's place of birth as Tarnów, Poland, in fact Poland had been partitioned in 1772 and from that time until 1918, Tarnów was in Austrian Galicia.

Hoborski studied at the 1st Junior High School in Tarnów, showing extraordinary mathematical abilities, and graduated in 1897. Later that year he began his studies of mathematics and physics at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. The Jagiellonian University was beginning a period of strength in mathematical studies at that time beginning with the appointment of Kazimierz Zorawski who had been a student of Sophus Lie. He had habilitated at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków in 1893, and after a short period in Berlin, he had returned to the Jagiellonian University where he was named extraordinary professor on 1 May 1895. He was promoted to ordinary professor of mathematics in 1898 and, in 1900, Stanisław Zaremba was also appointed as professor at the Jagiellonian University; together Zorawski and Zaremba built a major school of mathematics.

At the Jagiellonian University, Hoborski was taught by a number of excellent academics. He was taught differential and integral calculus by Franciszek Michał Karliński (1830-1906) who was the director of the Astronomical Observatory of the Jagiellonian University from 1862 to 1902. Hoborski took courses on analytical geometry and on algebraic equations given by Stanisław Kepiński (1867-1908). In 1892, Kepiński had obtained his habilitation at the Jagiellonian University as an assistant professor of mathematics having submitted the dissertation "On integrals of the solution of ordinary linear homogeneous differential equations of the second order". Hoborski also participated in a seminar with Kazimierz Zorawski and took courses from him on the theory of transformations, on partial differential equations, on the theory of functions and on differential geometry. His studies of physics involved classes in experimental physics and a seminar conducted by August Witkowski (1854-1913), who had studied with Gustav Kirchhoff and Lord Kelvin, and Władysław Natanson (1864-1937) who was head of theoretical physics at Kraków from 1899 to 1935.

Because Hoborski expected to have to become a school teacher, he also took courses on applications of psychology to pedagogy and attended a philosophical seminar with Teofil Ziemba (1847-1900). Ziemba applied psychology to biographical studies and was an expert on the Polish poet and essayist Adam Mickiewicz. Hoborski also attended a seminar on research methodology in the history of exact sciences with the physicist, astronomer and historian of science Ludwik Antoni Birkenmajer (1855-1929). During his first three years as an undergraduate, Hoborski considered himself to be Zorawski's student but after Zaremba was appointed in 1900 he took his courses and Zaremba took over as his advisor.

Zdzisław Pogoda tells us of other activities that Hoborski took part in while he was an undergraduate [24]:-
During his time as an undergraduate, Hoborski not only studied hard, he also took an active part in student life. Stanisław Gołąb tells us that it was Hoborski who significantly contributed to the reactivation of the Jagiellonian University Mathematics Society. This Society had been established in 1893 and its goal was for students to work through tasks together, discuss mathematics they were working on, and organise meetings at which students presented papers they had prepared. A few years after its establishment, the activity of the Society practically ceased, and in 1900 Hoborski managed to encourage many students to become active members. At the end of November, on the 28th to be precise, the general meeting was held. Hoborski was elected chairman and held this position for two terms until 1902. During this time he gave many lectures. During Hoborski's leadership, the Society began to be interested in publishing textbooks. There was a problem with printing because there was a lack of funds, but lithographs could be prepared. The matter was important because there was a severe lack of materials in Polish ...
Although he would have wanted to become a university lecturer, there were only very limited openings in that area so Hoborski aimed to begin his career as a High School teacher. After the award of his degree in 1901 he worked for his teaching qualification while, at the same time, teaching in a school in Kraków. On 28 May 1902 he submitted an application to take the examinations to qualify as a teacher of mathematics and physics. The Examination Committee approved his application and set him the task of preparing two dissertations, one on mathematics and the other on physics. For both the Committee gave him the topic: for mathematics it was "Explain the Neumann and Robin methods of integrating Laplace's equation for convex surfaces" and for physics it was "Explain the theory of the motion of light in absorbing media." He was given six months to complete the tasks but it actually took him eight months since he had been given a heavy teaching load at the school where he was employed. After his two dissertations were accepted, he then had to take written examinations which lasted eight hours and also have oral examinations in which he was questioned on eight different topics. As if that was not enough, he also had to sit examinations to prove his competence in both the Polish and the German language.

While working towards his teaching qualification, Hoborski had been teaching in Kraków. Over the next few years he taught mathematics and physics in High Schools in several different towns, spending around one year in each. From Kraków he went back to his hometown of Tarnów, about 35 km east of Kraków, then to Jasło, south east of Tarnów before making a move to Brzezany which was then in Galicia but is now in Ukraine. This was his only move out of the Kraków area since he next taught in Nowy Sacz south of Tarnów, then in 1907 he returned to teach in Kraków at the 5th Junior High School. During these years as a school teacher, Hoborski was aiming at a doctorate and he read extensively. Of course he taught during the day and so his studying mostly took place in the evenings. At this time the accommodation he lived in was poorly lit and over time his eyesight deteriorated. Determined to succeed, he persevered and made the move back to Kraków in 1907 so that he might be near the Jagiellonian University where he could be advised by Stanisław Zaremba.

We note at this point that Antoni Hoborski married Apolonia Kowalska in 1905.

Hoborski wrote the doctoral dissertation Intégration de l'équation différentielle aux dérivées partielles: Vt=2Vx2+2Vy2\large\frac{\partial V}{\partial t}\normalsize = \large\frac{\partial ^2 V}{\partial x^2}\normalsize +\large\frac{\partial ^2 V}{\partial y^2} and after the necessary examinations in May and June of 1908, he graduated on 26 June 1908. A doctorate was, however, only the first part of what he required to become a university teacher so he applied for funding from the Osławski foundation to allow him to make a two year trip abroad. The Osławski foundation was established by Wiktor Osławski, who was born in Galacia but spent most of his life in Paris. He left money to the Jagiellonian University of Kraków and to the University of Lviv, but also set up the Academy of Arts and Sciences to provide scholarships for graduates of both these universities. Hoborski spent one year in Paris and the following year in Göttingen, these being the two leading centres for mathematics in the world at that time. He attended lectures by the leading mathematicians of the day, including Gaston Darboux, Jacques Hadamard, Édouard Goursat, Émile Borel and Émile Picard in Paris, and David Hilbert, Felix Klein and Edmund Landau in Göttingen. While in Paris, he had been awarded a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the Sorbonne in 1909. From all these outstanding mathematicians, the greatest influence on Hoborski came from Hilbert, particularly his course on integral equations.

After these two years abroad, Hoborski was in a good position to prepare for his habilitation. Back in Kraków he resumed his teaching position at the 5th Junior High School. In 1911 he began giving lectures at the Jagiellonian University on descriptive geometry and number theory. He applied to be examined on 24 May 1912 and gave his habilitation lecture On a certain application of the principle of least value on 15 July of that year. Approved by the Ministry of Education in Vienna, he began his university career as a docent at the Jagiellonian University of Kraków on 1 October 1912.

There was a move to set up a Mining Academy in Kraków and an Organising Committee had been set up in April 1913 to appoint professors. In 1914 Hoborski was appointed as Professor of Mathematics at the Mining Academy but plans to open the new Academy on 1 October 1914 had to be put on hold when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on 29 July 1914 and World War I began. During the war, Hoborski continued to teach at the Jagiellonian University and at the 5th Junior High School. Two of the pupils at the High School, Stanisław Gołąb and Tadeusz Franciszek Piech (1901-1990), both showed outstanding mathematical abilities. Hoborski quickly saw this and arranged that every Sunday they would come to his home and receive several-hour-long lessons in higher mathematics. Both would continue to be strongly supported by Hoborski through their university studies and they became professors at the Mining Academy.

When World War I ended in 1918, Poland regained its independence. This was very pleasing to Hoborski who, despite having a father in the Austrian army and a German mother, had always been a patriotic Pole. Moves to open the new Mining Academy restarted [39]:-
When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the Organising Committee of the Mining Academy in Krakow recommenced its work. On April 8, 1919, the Council of Ministers put forward an official motion to establish and open the Mining Academy in Krakow. On May 1, 1919, the first six professors of the Mining Academy were appointed. On October 20, 1919, Józef Piłsudski officiated at a celebratory inauguration of the Mining Academy in the main hall of the Jagiellonian University.
The professors met in June 1919 and elected Hoborski, the Professor of Mathematics, as dean of the Faculty of Mining. Stanisław Płużański was appointed as the first rector of the Academy but never took up the position and, from 1 July 1919, Hoborski performed the duties of rector. Although the Mining Academy began teaching students in 1919, it did not have any buildings and teaching took place in the Jagiellonian University. This, however, was a difficult time with the Polish-Soviet war taking place. Students from the Mining Academy participated in the war. Hoborski described the events [39]:-
... our youth submitted to voluntary conscription, which I witnessed; then, on the 19th day of July 1920, they all went to their camps (only six were deemed unfit for military service).
Another event which followed Polish independence was the founding of the Polish Mathematical Society in 1919. Hoborski was one of sixteen mathematicians who are listed as founder members of the Society.

In 1922 construction began on the buildings for the Mining Academy with Hoborski, still in the role of rector, chairing the Committee for the Construction of the Mining Academy Building. He continued lecturing at the Jagiellonian University and could have accepted an offer as Chairman of the Department of Mathematics, but he chose to remain faithful to the Mining Academy [31]:-
In 1922, he received the title of professor at the Jagiellonian University, and in 1925 he was offered the Chair of Mathematics at the same university. He refused to accept this offer, however, not wanting to abandon the Mining Academy. In the role of professor, he continued his teaching activities at the Jagiellonian University, lecturing on various areas of differential geometry. Professor Hoborski had innate outstanding teaching abilities. He was an excellent lecturer, he prepared his lectures very carefully, delivering them with great eloquence and enthusiasm. He loved young people and, in particular, considered it his duty to take care of outstanding students. ... He willingly participated in his students' scientific trips to mines and steelworks, although it was extremely tiring for him due to his poor eyesight. He brilliantly organised the teaching syllabus and its delivery in his department. A few days before each exercise class, he held a briefing with the instructors, during which he discussed each task intended for the exercises which were to be completed at home.
Antoni Hoborski published several books, some of which were printed and some were handwritten. In the Prefaces to his books he described the way he believed that mathematics should be taught. Every year he taught a course on Higher Mathematics at the Mining Academy. He wrote:-
In addition to Higher Mathematics, the scientific programme of the Mining Academy includes algebra, trigonometry and analytical geometry as subjects of separate lectures, and many deficiencies in pre-academic preparation are eliminated during them. ... Our lecture is inductive; we give examples that are selected in such a way that they create an intuitive concept in the reader, then we formulate a precise, specific concept, and we give examples again. We provide concepts and as few "rules", "formulas" and "patterns" as possible - because we are of the opinion that nowhere can mechanical science prevail so easily and wreak such mental devastation as in mathematics that is not properly taught.
For more thoughts by Hoborski about teaching mathematics and writing mathematics textbooks, see the Prefaces of three of his books at THIS LINK.

In addition to textbooks, he published 66 research papers, for example Une remarque sur la limite des nombres ordinaux (1921), Remarque relative aux transformations linéaires, orthognales (1922), Une remarque sur les transformations réelles et orthogonales (1933), (with S Golab) Contribution à la théorie des équations de Frenet dans l'espace riemannien à n dimensions (1934), Über vollständige Systeme partieller Differentialgleichungen (1934) and Über spezielle Ebenen des Raumes R4R_{4} (1936).

Hieronim Sieński writes in [31]:-
He did not crave any honours, he was one of those who enjoyed his student's success more than his own. He was straightforward in his behaviour, approachable, and uncompromising in ethical matters. At the same time, he was very sensitive, both sensitive and understanding of human misfortune. Having no children of his own, he donated significant amounts of money to help orphans and poor students. He was a modest man, he did not desire honours, he valued above all the warm atmosphere of home and peace in which to work. In 1937, he founded the mathematical journal "Opuscula Mathematica" and was its first editor. Thanks to this title, the professor is still present in the university environment, as the journal continues to be published, and since 2000 there is a portrait of the founder on the cover.
Several major honours were given to Hoborski for his outstanding contributions. These included the Commander's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, which he received on 27 November 1927, the Medal of the Tenth Anniversary of Regained Independence, and the Medal for Long Service.

The tragedy that occurred after the outbreak of World War II is described in [39]:-
The Nazi German invasion of Poland in September 1939 brought the university to a halt. On 6 September Krakow was seized by German troops. They began to loot and plunder the university property, and reorganise the Main Building of the Mining Academy to house the Regierung des Generalgouvernements (General Government administration). In 1940, the statue of Saint Barbara was thrown off the top of the main building and shattered to pieces.

On 6 September 1939, a general assembly of Jagiellonian University professors was called to inform them about the policy of German authorities on science and education. On this day at noon, in room 66 of the Jagiellonian University Collegium Novum, numerous professors and lecturers gathered. The building was surrounded by the Gestapo and the meeting participants were arrested. Among the detainees were also Mining Academy professors who had attended another meeting in the boardroom of the Jagiellonian University Faculty of Philosophy. 183 people were imprisoned, among them professors, associate professors, and assistants from both universities, as well as many other people outside the academic community.

The arrested were detained at the prison at Montelupich Street in Krakow and subsequently transferred to the barracks at Mazowiecka Street. Later, they were transported to a prison in Wrocław and finally to the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen.
Hoborski was one of the professors who were arrested and ended up in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin. His final days are described in [31]:-
For the professor, who was no longer young and not in the best physical condition, staying in the terrifying camp conditions was one series of suffering. He had been wearing glasses for many years, but they did not help him much. He could see things at a short distance. This visual defect caused him to be physically clumsy, he moved slowly and very carefully, and in addition, when admitted to the camp, he was given two left shoes. He endured the very hard camp regime, but he did not lose his dignity and still had enough fortitude and strength of spirit that he was able to initiate discussions on mathematical topics. When he was informed in the camp about the death of his wife [Apolonia], who died on 18 December 1939, he endured this blow bravely and said: "It's still better than if she found out about my death, which surely awaits me here." Without the supervision of his younger friends, he could not cope with dressing, walking and eating. He suffered a lot of humiliation from the SS men before receiving a yellow armband with three black points, which meant he was disabled and this protected him from harassment to some extent. The breakdown came later. Fellow prisoner Professor Kazimierz Stołyhwo recalled it this way: "He was so abused that he came to me several times, telling me that he would throw himself on the electrified barbed wire surrounding the camp." At the end of January 1940, in cramped, dirty clogs full of nails, he seriously injured his frostbitten feet. After the forced amputation of his big toes, gangrene and high fever developed. In the first days of February 1940, the professor, who could no longer move, was transferred to the camp hospital. When on 8 February 1940, during the assembly, the list of those released from the camp was announced, including Hoborski, he was no longer able to leave the district. Professor Antoni Hoborski died on 9 February 1940, the day after his colleagues left. He died a free man.
There have been several events organised in more recent times to honour Hoborski and keep his memory alive. On 9 February 1980, the 40th anniversary of his death, a meeting was organised by the Institute of Mathematics of the AGH University of Science and Technology and the Committee on the History of Mathematics of the Polish Mathematical Society, and his colleagues and students shared their memories. In 1984, volume 935 of the AGH Scientific Notebooks was dedicated to his memory with 28 articles discussing his life and work (we list three [9], [21] and [19]). In 2001 the main building of the AGH University of Science and Technology containing the Department of Applied Mathematics was named for Antoni Hoborski. In 2014 the AGH University of Science and Technology organised the first "Hoborski Days - Exact Sciences Festival"; it has been held in November of each year since. At the Festival, an award was made for chemistry in 2015, for physics in 2016 and for mathematics in 2017, with this rotation continuing. The winner of the award is presented with a diploma and the "Diamond Ball" statuette.

References (show)

  1. About Professor Antoni Hoborski, AGH University of Krakow (2017).
  2. Antoni Maria Emilian Hoborski, Historia AGH (2024).
  3. E Barcikowska-Chromiec, W Majdak and A Wujek, Second edition of Hoborski Days, AGH Bulletin 96 (2015), 15-18.
  4. W Berbelicki, "Otia Litteraria" by Leon Wacholz, Jagiellonian Library Bulletin 28 (1978), 127-140.
  5. A Bolewski, Rectors of the Mining Academy in Krakow, Information Bulletin of AGH UST Employees 5 (1994), 7-10.
  6. B Choczewski, Antoni Hoborski, in The history of the Institute of Mathematics and the Faculty of Applied Mathematics of the AGH University of Science and Technology (Kraków 2007), 21-116.
  7. S Domoradzki, Z Pawlikowska-Brożek and D Węglowska (eds.), Antoni Hoborski, in Biographical dictionary of Polish mathematicians (Tarnobrzeg, 2003), 74-75.
  8. R Duda, Antoni Hoborski, in Mathematicians of the 19th and 20th centuries associated with Poland (Wrocław 2012), 164-166.
  9. J Dybiec, Mathematical investigations of Antoni Hoborski, AGH Scientific Notebooks 935: [Series] Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry 57 (1984), 23-38.
  10. T Gąsiorowski, Surviving in Sachsenhausen is not enough: the Krakow Branch of the Institute of National Remembrance and "Dziennik Polski" remind us, Dziennik Polski 259 (5 November 2010), A11.
  11. S Gołab, Antoni Hoborski, organizer of the Polish school of geometry, Wiadom. Mat. (2) 12 (1) (1969), 33-48.
  12. S Gołab, Antoni Hoborski, Studia z dziejów Katedr Wydziału Matematyki, Fizyki, Chemii Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego (1964), 121-124.
  13. Z Gołąb-Meyer, Teacher's examination of mathematician Antoni Hoborski, Foton 127 (2014), 49-53.
  14. L Hajdukiewicz (ed.), Sentence to the Jagiellonian University on November 6, 1939 (Kraków, 1989), 284-285.
  15. A Hoborski, Trzy odczyty o nauczaniu matematyki w szkole średniej (Nakł. Autora, Orbis, Kraków, 1925).
  16. W Iwańczak, First rector of AGH, Niedziela 47 (2012), 20-21.
  17. E Konieczna, Antoni Hoborski, in AGH UST figures in memories and anecdotes (Kraków, 2008), 9-12.
  18. M Odlanicki-Poczobutt (ed.), Antoni Hoborski, in Biographies of professors and assistants of the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków (1919-1964) (Kraków, 1965), 79-85.
  19. I Paczyńska, Aktion gegen Universitäts-Professoren: (Kraków, 6 November 1939) and the fate of those arrested during the occupation (Kraków, 2019), 188-851.
  20. Z Pawlikowska-Brozek, Antoni Hoborski (1879-1940), co-founder and first rector of AGH, Technology of Education in Higher Technical Schools 14 (1980), 129-133.
  21. Z Pawlikowska-Brozek, Bibliographic list of publications of Antoni Hoborski, AGH Scientific Notebooks 935: [Series] Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry 57 (1984), 39-42.
  22. J Pietrusza and A Wyszyńska (eds.), Antoni Hoborski, in Alumni of the Jagiellonian University - eras of World War II (1939-1945): biographies: collective work 1 (Kraków, 1995), 51.
  23. K Pikoń (ed), The Big Book of the 85th anniversary of the AGH University of Science and Technology (Gliwice, 2004), 115.
  24. Z Pogoda, Antoni Hoborski i jego matematyka, in J Becvár and M Becvárová (eds.), International Conference History of Mathematics (Charles University in Prague, 2012), 241-246.
  25. Z Pogoda, Początki geometrii róĪniczkowej w Polsce, Antiquitates Mathematicae 1 (2007), 115-130.
  26. Z Pogoda, Kazimierz Zorawski and the Cracow Mathematical School. 31. Mezinárodní konference Historie matematiky, Velké Meziricí 18. 8.-22. 8. (2010), 211-216.
  27. Z Pogoda, Stanisław Gołąb i geometria rózniczkowa w Polsce, 32. mezinárodní konference Historie matematiky, Jevícko, 26. 8.-30. 8. (2011), 77-86.
  28. Psyche Akademicka. Dzieło prof. Antoniego Hoborskiego, AGH University of Science and Technology (17 November 2021).
  29. T Rachwał, The life and work of Antoni Hoborski, AGH Scientific Notebooks 935: [Series] Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry 57 (1984), 9-22.
  30. H Sieński, Professor Antoni Hoborski: tables - everlasting memory, AGH Bulletin 76 (11) 2014), 35-37.
  31. H Sieński, Antoni Hoborski: Rektor w latach 1920-1922, Biuletyn AGH 147 (March 2020), 27-31.
  32. O Ślizień, 5. Hoborski Days, Vivat Akademia 19 (2018), 12-13.
  33. J Sulima-Samujłło, Antoni Hoborski, in Book of pupils and educators of the Mining Academy in Kraków (1919-1949) (Kraków, 1979), 59.
  34. J Sulima-Samujłło (ed.), Antoni Hoborski, in From the history of the AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków in the years 1919-1967 (Kraków, 1970), 622.
  35. T Wieja, New headquarters of the Faculty of Applied Mathematics of AGH, Information Bulletin of AGH UST Employees 87 (2001), 29-31.
  36. J Wacławik, Antoni Hoborski, in Chronicle of the Mining Department 1919-1999 (Kraków, 1999), 114.
  37. A P Wojda, Opening of the Pavilion named after prof Antoni Hoborski, Information Bulletin of AGH UST Employees 90 (6) (2000), 24.
  38. A Wrzeszcz, Hoborski Days, AGH Bulletin 108 (2016), 20-23.
  39. History of the AGH University, AGH University of Science and Technology (2023).

Additional Resources (show)

Other pages about Antoni Hoborski:

  1. Antoni Hoborski's Books

Cross-references (show)

Written by J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
Last Update June 2024