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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 82
October 6, 1918–April 11, 1974
BY JOSEPH W.DAUBEN
Playfulness is an important element in the makeup of a good mathematician.
ABRAHAM ROBINSON WAS BORN on October 6, 1918, in the Prussian mining town of Waldenburg (now Walbrzych), Poland.1 His father, Abraham Robinsohn (1878–1918), after a traditional Jewish Talmudic education as a boy went on to study philosophy and literature in Switzerland, where he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Bern in 1909. Following an early career as a journalist and with growing Zionist sympathies, Robinsohn accepted a position in 1912 as secretary to David Wolfson, former president and a leading figure of the World Zionist Organization. When Wolfson died in 1915, Robinsohn became responsible for both the Herzl and Wolfson archives. He also had become increasingly involved with the affairs of the Jewish National Fund. In 1916 he married Hedwig Charlotte (Lotte) Bähr (1888– 1949), daughter of a Jewish teacher and herself a teacher.
Born Abraham Robinsohn, he later changed the spelling of his name to Robinson shortly after his arrival in London at the beginning of World War II. This spelling of his name is used throughout to distinguish Abby Robinson the mathematician from his father of the same name, the senior Robinsohn. Abby’s older brother, Shaul, always used Robinsohn, the traditional form of the family name.