Hans Rohrbach's Report on the German Charles University

Below we give (i) Hans Rohrbach's Report on the Mathematical Institute of the German Charles University of Prague and (ii) Rohrbach's own description of how he divided his time between his work as a cryptologist in the Foreign Office in Berlin and his duties in Prague.

1. Hans Rohrbach's Report
Prague, 3 October 1944
German Charles University

To the Curator of the German Scientific High Schools Prague

Report on the Development of the Mathematical Institute of the German Charles University

I am taking the move of the Mathematical Institute into the recently completed new rooms as an opportunity to give a short report on the development of the Institute in the last year. Up to the end of 1943 no research work was carried out in the Institute. The two established professors had been assigned to war work but, in addition, continued to carry out their teaching duties. The assistant had been drafted into the army, and no additional mathematicians were available. However, since I arrived here, I have made efforts to have the Institute itself to be involved in war related research. To achieve this I required more space and more collaborators. Once my requests to enlarge the Institute were granted in a satisfactory way by the curator, the work of setting up began a year ago. In the meantime I had appointed Dr Gentzen to be a lecturer at the Institute and had trained Miss Garkisch as a computer. In the hope that work on the new rooms would soon be completed, I accepted the first war related tasks to be undertaken at the Mathematical Institute. As computer, in addition to Miss Garkisch, from time to time we employed students; the direction of the research tasks was undertaken by Dr Gentzen as I was occupied with my activities in Berlin and can only be in Prague for part of the time. At the same time I made a request to the Planning Office of the Reichsforschungsrat that they allowed the return of mathematicians serving in the army. The first of these arrived in July of this year and could be assigned to further research tasks. At the beginning of August we made a temporary move into the new rooms. The procurement of the necessary fittings naturally caused difficulties and there was a delay for some time. In any event, we can now say that the Institute is already carrying out essential work on research tasks. At present the following scientists are working at the Institute: Docent Dr Gentzen; Dr Franz Krammer; secondary school teacher Walter Tietze; and Dr Paul Armsen. In addition there are the following assistants: the students Helmut Wolf, Wolfgang Fleischmann, Maria Burian; and the technical assistant Maria Garkisch. Additional collaborators and assistants are requested. The work of the Institute is progressing as planned, in accordance with the demands of total war.

In summary I express the conviction that the curator's decision to commission the preparations for the Mathematical Institute was correct. I hope that the development of the Institute described and, through the new study requirement, the increased significance of mathematics, have shown that it is necessary to provide the Mathematical Institute of the German University of Prague with full support both for the remaining preparations and the acquisitions still to come.

The Director of the Mathematical Institute of the German University

2. Rohrbach's two wartime positions
In the above report, Rohrbach explains that he cannot give his full attention to the Mathematical Institute of the German University of Prague because of his commitments in Berlin. Here is his own description of how he split his time between these two tasks in the months that followed the report:

I had concluded my activity there [Prague] for the winter semester 1944-45 [at the end of February] and was in Berlin, where during the war I was busy full time at the Foreign Office. I looked after the work in Prague for only two days in the week during the semester, travelling there at night in a sleeper coach, two night later back in a sleeper coach, thus working four days a week in Berlin, two days in Prague. During the vacations I was busy only in Berlin. I intended to return to Prague for the summer semester 1945 [at the end of April]. I had as always left everything personal behind in the Institute, in particular books, lecture manuscripts, etc. But at the beginning of April 1945 I was already in the store of the Foreign Office in Thuringia.

Last Updated April 2016