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This contribution gives an overview of the early history of fracture mechanics and highlights the contributions of Karl Wieghardt and Alfons Leon to the development of the basic analytical equations of fracture mechanics. It is shown that the work of these pioneers anticipated many of the later developments by several decades. It will also be shown that particularly the work by Wieghardt was in fact directly related to a practical failure case and the neglect of his fundamental paper is unjustified.
history, fracture mechanics, crack tip stress field, crack initiation, damage, notch stresses
Professor, Institute of Mechanics, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna,