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467 Chapter 1 Greetings to the Reader: What Is History? The past is never dead. It’s not even past. —William Faulkner3 Life travels upward in spirals. He who takes pains to search the shadows of the past below us, then, can better judge the tiny arc up which he climbs, more surely guess the dim curves of the future above him. —Stefan Zweig4 He alone reads history aright who, observing how powerfully circumstances influence the feelings and opinions of men, how often vices pass into virtues and paradoxes into axioms, learns to distinguish what is accidental and transitory in human nature from what is essential and immutable.
I was also amazed that you have been able to collect so many facts, letters and data from that period. So much work! Your description is very objective but humane and it is most interesting how out of all these facts slowly one gets an image of a real person of flesh and blood behind these facts. —Dorith van der Waerden16 Thank you for sending me your triptych, which I read with great interest! This history is so complex, but you got so much information, I was astounded. Reading was very compelling—my greatest compliment for the study you made.
And so, their friendship has never been seriously explored. In this book you will see Heisenberg from a different angle as a loyal friend of Van der Waerden. You will take part in discussing for the first time in full detail, Van der Waerden writing to Niels Bohr and Hans Kramers in defense of Heisenberg. And you will see the commonality of decisions by Van der Waerden and Heisenberg, such as staying in Nazi Germany when they had offers to leave, and protesting firings of Jewish professors. In fact, the stenography of the 1935 faculty meeting where they both, Van der Waerden and Heisenberg, protest Jewish firings, has been substantially quoted by me in The Mathematical Coloring Book [Soi9], but appears here in its entirety, and with photos of all five protesters and one chief defender of the Nazi regime (Arthur Golf).