In the following sentences of the note the city of Lvov is mentioned twice as a place where Banach worked, there is no remark about Poland. Probably the mistake was pointed out to the editors, because a small change was made in the next edition. The beginning of the corrected note is as follows:,,Banach, Stefan(b. March 30, 1892, Kraków, Austria-Hungary - d. Aug. 31, 1945, Lvov, Ukrainian S.S.R), Soviet mathematician who founded modern functional analysis and..."

The rest of information was not changed. After such information a reader of Encyclopaedia can find out that Banach was born in a mysterious country "Pol.", but he was a Soviet mathematician, because he worked in Lvov, which was, according to the note, a Soviet city. Note that XVth edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica introduces Albert Einstein as "a German-American physicist", and Alfred Tarski: "a Polish-born American mathematician" (after the comparison we guess that Tarski was born in Poland but he became a mathematician in the USA, which is certainly completely false). Euler, who spent most of his life in Russia, is introduced as "a Swiss mathematician and physicist". Of course we are not going to prove here that Banach was Polish - it would be useless to prove the obvious things. Nevertheless, let us recall here some historical events. During the whole 19th century up to 1918 Polish territory was taken by Russia, Austria-Hungary and Germany. The life of people was very hard except from the area taken by Austria-Hungary, which contained also Kraków and Lwów. For instance, lessons at schools and lectures at universities were given in Polish language there. Banach spent his childhood in Kraków, then started studying in the Lwów Technical University but after the beginning of the First World War he came back to Kraków. After the war he did not plan to be a professional mathematician, but was accidentaly "discovered" by Steinhaus in one of Kraków's park. Steinhaus was walking in the park and suddenly heard the words "Lebesgue integral". He was very surprised and started talking to two young men, which were Stefan Banach and Otto Nikodym. Steinhaus realized their mathematical knowledge was large and during the talk communicated them a problem he was just working on. A few days later Banach came to Steinhaus and showed him a solution. Steinhaus recognized Banach's great mathematical talent and arranged a job for him at the Technical University of Lwów. As a result Banach, who never graduated from any university, became a university teacher, very quickly got his Ph. D. and became a full professor. He worked in Lwów, a city which after the war was joined back to Poland. In 1939 Lwów was gained by the Soviet Union, in 1941 by Germany and in 1944 by the Soviet Union again. After the end of the war it turned out that Lwów would be taken by the Soviet Union definitively, so Banach was going to move to Kraków where he was offered a Chair at the Jagiellonian University, but he died on 31st August, 1945. According to this he spent in the Soviet Union about three years. His language, family etc. was Polish, he worked and taught in Poland. There is a story that before the First World War Banach was offered a position in the USA by an eminent mathematician. He asked about the salary and then he was shown a cheque with his name and a number '1' written. "Please, write after this '1' as many '0's as you want" he was told. "Oh, this is too small price for leaving Poland" he answered. Note also that before the Second World War the city of Lwów was never Ukrainian or Soviet. It is important that in Soviet mathematical encyclopedias Banach is introduced as a Polish mathematician. Let us point out here that in these encyclopedias there are other mistakes. In the Soviet biographical dictionary of mathematicians "The Great Mathematicians" there is written that Greczek was a real Banach's surname and that Banach graduated from the Technical University of Lwów. As was mentioned above, "Greczek" was really the surname of Banach's father, but Banach never used this surname and did not have this surname in any document. Also, one of the most characteristical points of Banach's mathematical career was that Banach was self-educated and in fact did not study, in particular he did not graduated from any university. Let us finish with a not widely known story connected with Banach. There is many well known stories about Banach, as he had a very interesting personality. We shall mention here an event which happened many years after Banach's death. During the International Congress of Mathematicians in Warsaw in 1983 some mathematicians (not from Poland) discovered that one of Warsaw's streets is named after Banach. They wanted very much to see this street, so they went there. When they came to the destination they realized that there was a large area without any building. Then they commented: "This is not Banach street, but Banach space". Received: 25th Sept. 1992 Reviewed by: dr Zofia Pawlikowska-Brożek,,Banach, Stefan(b. March 30, 1892, Kraków, Pol. - d. Aug. 31, 1945, Lvov, Ukrainian S.S.R), mathematician who founded modern functional analysis and..."

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Emilia Jakimowicz i Adam MiranowiczFile translated from T

On 04 Jan 2012, 18:50.