We: Which was your attitude to the duties in school, and in uniwersity?
Prof: I learned well, If I had more applied, I would have been even better. I applied primarily to the items that interested me and the rest…. Before the final exams I had applied and I had very good results. I admit, without false modesty, that I was very capable, above all I had a very good memory. When I was a little boy, under the influence of my cousin, Józiek Holzmann (he was very talented, but lazy and he was at the Polytechnic on one of the faculty, on the other, had not finished, just in Lwów put under pressure the Soviets to the study) became interested in astronomy, then in high school I was very interested in chemistry. Perhaps under the influence of a teacher, Sigmund Scheller (very nice teacher), and maybe because I had a predisposition towards the sciences. Even I was chairman of the chemical circles. Then I passed my love of chemistry to physics, I must admit that I had with this band a wealth of knowledge, I became comfortable in this high school diploma, I gave private lessons with her, truly solve the task, I had read a lot, I knew a lot about the theory of relativity (special, with a total I knew in general).
I passed the matriculation exams test of physics and history, to the astonishment of my teacher this item (history), prof. Bartel, with who I had contact even after the war. Well, history does not belong to objects, which made me very interested, but I have read many historical books, such as two volumes of “History of the French Revolution,” William Bloss. In high school I had a test on “Transformation of the Polish nation after the January Uprising.” I wrote eight pages of graph paper, not even anything I could write up. The day when the future results of baccalaureate, just as I was not at school, but I know that professor Bartl came and he said that as the only player from the class 5 and he read my work. It was then that part of the students sympathize with the ONR felt offended, because I wrote that the Polish independence movement came out of Marxism (although the teacher said that I was right.) In any event, I made a sensation as soon as I came to school, it Bartl told me privately, “Bolek, you should take a history..” At graduation, I chose the topic of the April Constitution. I was her strong opponent, but this is not done at the high school – I praised her very much. I wrote 10 pages, not eight as before, 10 pages! I got back 5, also did a great historian of me. This went badly for me latin, I did not like this item (from the latin I had 4). Besides, a latin teacher did not like me. Even I remember why. Well, everybody had to have necessarily a book, and I did not have, because I had stolen. When asked why I do not have the book, rather than respond to that stolen, I said “Pluck them.” He was terribly mad, even wrote in the daily classroom “Gleichgewicht uses vulgar words.” Of course, it was not a vulgar word. The german went well I even would go to Sopot, where I used to use this language, but then I started to leave the German. At graduation, I wrote four pages of the development of german, I got fourth partially forgot the language, because it is known that during the war I suffered a lot because of this nation … But today I speak a little german. I participated in a physical ring, also I have been in the room, which led Jacobi – math teacher. He often played chess, after I became a chess champion Rey, prof. Jacobi often played with me. The longer I played, the more I won. I played well, even the “Morning Courier” printed in his edition of my party with Pawlikowski. In the Soviet Union I played a lot of chess, I rode to tournaments, not only on them I had the opportunity to meet and deal with world famous chessplayers. After returning to the Polish I have not played chess, I did not have time – I lost so many years of life, I wanted to finally deal with mathematics.
W: Returning to study – you said that you are initially studied physics. In that case, why then do you study math?
P: By saying that I was interested in physics, I was thinking of theoretical physics. It was only later I realized that I was interested in its mathematical structure. After the war he studied in Odessa, at the beginning of the Faculty of default. After three years I went to full-time and up to 1 semester of 3 years (or 5 semester), all departments I had a common lectures, after five semesters had to select a specific office. In the meantime, more and more interested in math. Even with a colleague Yuri (later a professor at Odessa), I founded a student math; I was chairman, and secretary Yuri. Moreover, in Odessa at that time were outstanding mathematicians such as Krein (world-renowned mathematician, in my opinion one of the greatest twentieth century) and his school, so Lewin (specialized in the analytical functions of a complex variable, had a very strong influence of me) , Rutman (my thesis supervisor). So, mathematics has become very high and very low physics. In addition, I realized that my Polish and Jewish origins (despite tolerances, which are boasted of the USSR, the country met with anti-Semitism and all kinds of discrimination very often) may preclude the making of a doctorate. Left over so learning in school. As a physicist I would have to carry a lot of experience, and I admit that the practical side of physics did not interest me, I did not have a predisposition to it (in physic’s experiences I have two left hands). So I wanted to be a math teacher. Going further, physics has become a science if not political, it is of national importance (such as atomic physics, nuclear). So I would not have any opportunities. Indeed, I realized this when I wanted to go to the place where Soviet submarines were constructed, there needed to mathematicians. But I was not taken, although the Jews were taken there, it was not taken there from the Polish people. In any case, I chose mathematics and do not regret. Besides, in Wroclaw also I found a very good school of mathematics, including Hugo Steinhaus (thanks to him I got a job as an assistant at the University of Breslau, he met me with prof. Marczewski, we were friends until his death.)