• The Last Equation of Private Doeblin

    The Last Equation of Private Doeblin

The Last Equation of Private Doeblin

a film by Jürgen Ellinghaus, Hubert Ferry

The Last Equation of Private Doeblin

France | Germany | 2006 | 86:00 min

Original Title:
Der versiegelte Brief des Soldaten Döblin

Content Categories

Das kurze Leben des Wolfgang Döblin, eigenwilliger Sohn seines berühmten Vaters und mathematisches Genie
When France surrendered in 1940 and German soldiers showed up in the Vosgian village of Housseras, an unknown French foot soldier burned his papers and killed himself in a farmer's barn. Four years later he was identified as "soldat Doblin, Vincent". In fact, he was none other than the mathematician Wolfgang Doeblin, son of the famous German novelist Alfred Döblin ("Berlin Alexanderplatz") who was forced to flee Nazi Germany with his family in 1933. A French citizen since October 1936, Wolfgang Doeblin carried on his research into probability theory during his military service and even during the hardships of the "Phoney War" in the winter of 1939-40. In February 1940, four months before his death at the age of 25, he sent his most important manuscripts ("About the Kolmogoroff Equation") as a "sealed envelope" to the Academy of Science in Paris, where they were kept in safe custody for 60 years. Wolfgang Doeblin's short and dramatic life story, almost forgotten, was finally brought into the limelight when the "sealed envelope" was opened in May 2000. Far ahead of their time, his groundbreaking contributions to the theory of random processes place Wolfgang Doeblin among the major innovators of probability, the "mathematics of randomness". Mathematical models for evaluation of chances and risks went on to gain major importance in numerous domains of modern science, in everyday life and especially in contemporary financial mathematics.
2007 Convegno Matematica e Cultura, Venezia / Italy
2007 R.I.S.C. Marseille / France
2008 MathFilm Festival / Germany (multiple locations)
2015 Les Rendez-vous de l'histoire, Blois / France
2017 Les Rendez-vous du Festival du film de chercheur, Nancy / France
Cast and Crew
  • Director Jürgen Ellinghaus, Hubert Ferry
  • Screenwriter Jürgen Ellinghaus, Hubert Ferry
  • Director of Photography Philippe Costantini, Thomas Keller, Arlette Girardot
  • Editor Anne Lacour, Nicolas Barachin, Françoise Arnaud
  • Sound Damien Turpin, Jean-Pierre Fénié
Age Rating


Original Languages



World Sales Company
The Party Film Sales
16, rue Frochot, 75009 Paris

Phone: +33 1 40229215

Production Company
Co-Production Company
Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB)
arte - ARTE G.E.I.E.
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