LIPMAN BERS

May 22, 1914–October 29, 1993

BY IRWIN KRA AND HYMAN BASS

INTRODUCTION

LIPMAN BERS WAS BORN in Riga, Latvia, on 22 May 1914 into a secular intellectual Jewish family. At the time of his death, in New Rochelle, New York on 29 October 1993, he was the focal point of a large extended group of scientists—mostly mathematicians, many former doctoral students with whom he maintained close and continuous ties for decades. His friends and colleagues knew him as “Lipa.” His life was a twentieth-century Jewish and intellectual odyssey. He had close encounters with fascism and Stalinism. In an irrational world he approached all issues through his intellect. He was born in Europe on the brink of revolutionary changes. He died in America after several tyrannies had come and gone. He started as a Bundist with strong anti-nationalist leanings, but over the years he grew increasingly fond of Israel.

He opposed nuclear armaments as if there were no cold war; he fought tyranny as if this struggle had no arms control implications. He played an important role in American

Reprinted with permission from the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 140, no. 2., June 1996. List of significant publications appended.



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