Abstract algebra

Stegemühlenweg 51, Göttingen.

Amalie Emmy Noether is probably the most important woman in the history of mathematics and left a strong footprint in modern algebra. She did so facing strong resistance caused by the fact that she was a woman, Jewish, and on the left politically. Emmy Noether was born at Erlangen in 1882 and started her studies at Göttingen. She returned to Erlangen after one semester until she received her PhD in mathematics there.

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Geismar Landstraße 1, now: Am Geismartor 4, Göttingen (Bonifatiusschule II).

When in 2023 Christopher Nolans movie Oppenheimer came to cinemas worldwide the history of Julius Robert Oppenheimer also came back to focus. How should he be remembered? As a genius physicist? Or is the leader of the Manhattan project and creator of the first atomic bomb, the destroyer of the worlds (a quote from the Bhagavad Gita), responsible for the death of so many people at Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Or did he save many lives by helping to end World War II (as he stated himself); at a point in time when Nazi Germany already had surrendered? A question also relevant for the city of Göttingen, as Oppenheimer was living and working there for some time.

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Ehrenmal im Rosengarten, Göttingen

The Rosengarten (rose garden) of Göttingen is a forgotten place close to the new town hall building and the city center, just behind the Wallanlagen. Some people might walk from the Cheltenhampark via the Albanifriedhof to the Rosengarten and discover lots of beautiful roses there – but it is typically not a place you’re visiting on purpose. Younger citizens might remember that school’s out parties where once celebrated there, others might have been at this place because it is the schoolyard of the Bonifatiusschule.

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Stumpfe Eiche

Mahnmal Stumpfe Eiche, Göttingen

Today Weende is a city quarter of Göttingen, Germany. It was an independent community until 1964 and as such it was (and it is still) remembering its fallen soldiers in both World Wars. In 1956 the stonemason August Voss had created a memorial made of sandstone which was placed in a small forest in a region called Stumpfe Eiche (after the former local name vor der stuven Eichen, referring to stubs of oaks once standing there). It is today a bit hidden, but you can see steps leading you from the street level into the forest. There the memorial is surrounded by seats. It is a nice place, but a problematic memorial.

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Pfalz Grona

Pfalz Grona, Göttingen

In former times the kings and emperors in Germany didn’t have permanent seats, they had royal palaces spread out over their realm and were travelling between them. From 915 to 1387 one of these places called Königspfalz or Kaiserpfalz was located on the territory of Göttingen, the Pfalz Grona (also known as Burg Grona). It is one of the roots of the city quarter Grone (even as today it belongs to the Weststadt) and kings and queens, emperors and empresses were enjoying their stays there – but it is mostly forgotten. There are only street names remembering the past (Pfalz-Grone-Breite, Burg Grona, Unter der Pfalz) and a memorial stone hidden in the forest on top of the Hagenberg mountain.

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Fighting fascism

Conny-Wessmann-Denkmal, Göttingen

To engage in politics belongs to the DNA of Göttingen, Germany. Every week you’ll see rallies and demonstrations on local, national and international topics. The city has today a strong left scene which is because of the importance of the university (of the 120,000 inhabitants 30,000 are students), but also as a reaction to the fact that the city during Nazi times embraced the NSDAP fast. Already in 1930 the Nazi party received 37.8 % of the local votes.

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Flown away

Süd-West-Afrika-Denk­mal, Göttingen

In the south of Göttingen, in a quite prominent location at the intersection of the Geismar Landstraße and the Friedländer Weg you can find the stub of a memorial that is pretty much unknown to the citizens of Göttingen. It is the Süd-West-Afrika-Denkmal, commemorating the fallen of the 82nd regiment (once located at the city) during the uprising of the Herero and Nama against the colonial forces in former Deutsch-Südwestafrika, todays Namibia.

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Altes Rathaus, Göttingen

At the heart of the ancient city center of Göttingen you can find the Altes Rathaus, the old town hall building dating back to the year 1270 CE. It was changed multiple times over the centuries and was used by the city administration and city council until the year 1978. After that time both institutions use a skyscraper created outside the city center, the Neues Rathaus at the Hiroshima-Platz.

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Saline Luisenhall

Saline Luisenhall, Göttingen

Salt, also referred to as the white gold, is used for many purposes: for nutrition and cosmetics, to clear roads in winter time, to preserve food and many more. Sodium chloride (NaCl) is typically gathered from sea water (sea salt) or by mining halite (rock salt) underground. In few cases brine is gathered from the ground, a highly concentrated solution of salt in water – it is then heated to let the water evaporate. One of these places is the Saline Luisenhall at Göttingen, Germany; Europe’s last saline that uses giant iron pans to recover salt from brine.

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Four cellars

Ancient floor heating of the old town hall, Göttingen

You can learn a lot about the history of Göttingen by walking through its streets and visiting important places. But for some stories you have to explore the underground and have a look at the cellars in the city center. Fortunately, the tourist information organizes guided tours that show you hidden Jewish ritual baths, ancient floor heating systems, a sewer of a former monastery and a beautiful vaulted cellar. Some have been known all the time, others have been temporarily forgotten and rediscovered.

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