Friedrich Hirzebruch, universally known, like his father and paternal grandfather, as Fritz, was born in Hamm on 17th October, 1927. His grandfather had been a master saddler, an important position at a time when horses were the main form of transport. His father had mathematical talent and studied mathematics and natural sciences in Göttingen, Berlin and Münster before becoming a high school teacher in Minden. In due course he became the headmaster of a large secondary school in Hamm where he stayed for the remaining twenty-five years of his career. His wife, Martha (née
Holtschmit) came from a family that worked in the Westphalian metal industry.
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