In the present paper the story is told of the brief and far from tranquil encounter of L.E.J. Brouwer and A. Fraenkel. The relationship which started in perfect harmony, ended in irritation and reproaches.
The mutual appreciation at the outset is beyond question. All the more deplorable is the sudden outbreak of an emotional disagreement in 1927. Looking at the Brouwer–Fraenkel episode, one should keep in mind that at that time the so-called Grundlagenstreit was in full swing. An emotional man like Brouwer, who easily suffered under stress, was already on edgewhen Fraenkel's book Zehn Vorlesungen Über die Grundlegung der Mengenlehre, [Fraenkel 1927] was about to appear.
With the Grundlagenstreit reaching (in print!) a level of personal abuse unusual in the quiet circles of pure mathematics, Brouwer was rather sensitive, where the expositions of his ideas were concerned. So when he thought that he detected instances of misconception and misrepresentation in the case of his intuitionism, he felt slighted. We will mainly look at Brouwer's reactions. since the Fraenkel letters have not been preserved.
The late Mrs. Fraenkel kindly put the Brouwer letters that were in her possession at my disposal. I am grateful to the Fraenkel family for the permission to use the material.
I am indebted to Andreas Blass for his valuable suggestions and corrections.
Abraham Fraenkel (then still called Adolf) was one of the first non-partisan
mathematicians, if not the first, who developed a genuine interest in intuitionism.