Ernst Fiedler (1861–1954)

Mathematics lecturer

Ernst Fiedler was born in Chemnitz on 22 July 1861. When his father, mathematician Wilhelm Fiedler, was offered a position as a professor of geometry at the Federal Polytechnic School in 1867, the whole family followed him to Zurich. The Fiedlers were eventually granted Swiss citizenship in 1875. Ernst Fiedler attended the grammar school in Zurich before studying in Berlin, Leipzig and Zurich.

Professor at the Federal Polytechnic School and other teaching work

After his PhD in Leipzig, he qualified as a private lecturer in mathematics at the Federal Polytechnic School in 1886 and became a supply teacher at the cantonal school. In 1889 he was made a professor of mathematics at Zurich's Industrieschule and in 1904 became the first rector of the renamed Oberrealschule, which he ran until 1926.

Military career

Embarking on a military career, he rapidly climbed the ladder and, aged forty-three, became the youngest colonel in the Swiss army. In 1889 he started giving lectures on military science instead of mathematics and taught ballistics at military school. He earned most of his merits as a sponsor of the Industrieschule, which he transformed into a recognised preparatory institution for a degree at ETH Zurich. 

Ernst Fiedler died in Zurich on 16 July 1954 at the ripe old age of ninety-three.


Fiedlers Handschrift

Cover of Ernst Fiedler's college exercise book with the shorthand transcript of the lecture "Differential- und Integralrechnung" (Differential and Integral Calculus) given by Professor G. Frobenius in the winter semester 1879/80 (Hs 107:2).



Ernst Fiedler's identity card from the Federal Polytechnic School from 1879 (Hs 123:18).


Fielder's personal papers in the ETH-Zurich University Archives primarily contain shorthand transcripts of lectures from his university years in Berlin (Karl Weierstrass and Leopold Kronecker) and Zurich (Georg Ferdinand Frobenius, Wilhelm Fiedler, Friedrich Weber, Karl Friedrich Geiser and many more). The inventory can be consulted via the ETH E-Collection (external link).