In Saunders Mac Lane's autobiography he described how he visited, I think Königsberg, then the centre of mathematics in Germany. He also reported he that he saw Hitler somewhere and that he wished that he had a gun so he could shoot him. Had he done it, it might have saved a great deal of trouble all round.

Q. Where did Mac Lane report seeing him? Was it in an academic setting and what was he - I mean Hitler - doing there?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I suggest a mod migration to the History SE (the science aspect is practically negligible). $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Nov 6 '19 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ @user259412: Its about a mathematician and his history and the history of his times and I think that is relevant to the history of science. $\endgroup$ Nov 7 '19 at 3:38
  • $\begingroup$ Relevant (old) meta-post. I think that this is a borderline case and will refrain from voting on its being on- or off-topic. $\endgroup$
    – Danu
    Nov 10 '19 at 20:14

This incident is recounted in Mac Lane's autobiography, in chapter 6, starting on page 56. It was not Königsberg, but rather Weimar, and he saw Hitler at a performance of a Wagner opera on Wagner's birthday. It's only mentioned in a single paragraph:

Once I actually saw Hitler. While in Göttingen it suddenly occurred to me that I had never visited Weimar, the famous court where Goethe lived and worked. So I took the train and found a hotel, then went to the opera house. The tickets for the Wagnerian concert that evening were all sold out -- it was Wagner's birthday, May 22 -- but someone with an extra ticket came along and sold it to me. I went and enjoyed the opera, and went out into the lobby for the intermission. There, across the lobby, stood Hitler and Göring -- they were easy to recognize from the many pictures I had seen in the papers, and it was well known that Hitler like Wagnerian opera. I had no gun with me.

  • $\begingroup$ But he did also write if he had a gun on him he would shoot him? $\endgroup$ Nov 13 '19 at 22:59
  • $\begingroup$ @MoziburUllah That's the implied meaning of the last sentence. But we've been through this before, and the comments have been deleted for no apparent reason. That paragraph is all he says about the incident. $\endgroup$ Nov 14 '19 at 0:11
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I'll have to check myself as I certainly remember him writing that he would shoot him. And we haven't been through this before. $\endgroup$ Nov 14 '19 at 9:47
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, I've checked it - and you're right - this is the implied meaning of the last sentence. Its that implied meaning which I understood and obviously remembered rather than the exact quote. $\endgroup$ Nov 14 '19 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ Does the book indicate when this was? $\endgroup$
    – fdb
    Nov 16 '19 at 16:32

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