February 5, 2008

U. of C. math professor urged creativity in learning


Professor Izaak Wirszup (Z’l) was a world revered mathematician who never forgot his roots.

He made a paramount contribution to the teaching of mathematics but he never neglected the exercise of preserving his memories as a Holocaust survivor.

Professor Wirszup had lost his wife and son during the Holocaust but he managed to turn his harrowing experience into a quest for life and knowledge.

As per his granddaughter’s own words, ”he focused mainly on the good that came out of it”.

The story of the French resistance fighters who were captive with him and asked him how he had slept underscores Professor Wirszup’s focus on the good, rather than the evil.

His story is very much the story of the Holocaust which had two sides of the same coin. One side was the absolute evil role played by the Nazis and his collaborators, who perpetrated the most heinous crimes against humanity. The other side was populated by the heroes, the saviours, like Raoul Wallenberg, who risked their lives to save innocent lives and dignity of mankind at large.

Professor Wirszup preferred to look at the latter side of the coin. He kept alive the memory of his beloved ones by living a meaningful and productive life and concentrated on the good.

May his memory be blessed.

Aldo Nasjleti
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF)
Buenos Aires