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Eistein: The world as I see it, 1921 2019-10-05 12:51:32



Albert Einstein


Only individuals have a sense of responsibility. --Nietzsche

This book does not represent a complete collection of the articles, addresses,

and pronouncements of Albert Einstein; it is a selection made with a definite

object-- namely, to give a picture of a man. To-day this man is being drawn,

contrary to his own intention, into the whirlpool of political passions and

contemporary history. As a result, Einstein is experiencing the fate that so

many of the great men of history experienced: his character and opinions are

being exhibited to the world in an utterly distorted form.

To forestall this fate is the real object of this book. It meets a wish that has

constantly been expressed both by Einstein's friends and by the wider public.

It contains work belonging to the most various dates-- the article on "The

International of Science" dates from the year 1922, the address on "The

Principles of Scientific Research" from 1923, the "Letter to an Arab" from

1930--and the most various spheres, held together by the unity of the

personality which stands behind all these utterances. Albert Einstein believes

in humanity, in a peaceful world of mutual helpfulness, and in the high mission

of science. This book is intended as a plea for this belief at a time which

compels every one of us to overhaul his mental attitude and his ideas.

J. H.




In his biography of Einstein Mr. H. Gordou Garbedian relates that an

American newspaper man asked the great physicist for a definition of his

theory of relativity in one sentence. Einstein replied that it would take him

three days to give a short definition of relativity. He might well have added

that unless his questioner had an intimate acquaintance with mathematics and

physics, the definition would be incomprehensible.

To the majority of people Einstein's theory is a complete mystery. Their

attitude towards Einstein is like that of Mark Twain towards the writer of a

work on mathematics: here was a man who had written an entire book of

which Mark could not understand a single sentence. Einstein, therefore, is

great in the public eye partly because he has made revolutionary discoveries

which cannot be translated into the common tongue. We stand in proper awe

of a man whose thoughts move on heights far beyond our range, whose

achievements can be measured only by the few who are able to follow his

reasoning and challenge his conclusions.

There is, however, another side to his personality. It is revealed in the

addresses, letters, and occasional writings brought together in this book.

These fragments form a mosaic portrait of Einstein the man. Each one is, in a

sense, complete in itself; it presents his views on some aspect of progress,

education, peace, war, liberty, or other problems of universal interest. Their

combined effect is to demonstrate that the Einstein we can all understand is no

less great than the Einstein we take on trust.

Einstein has asked nothing more from life than the freedom to pursue his

researches into the mechanism of the universe. His nature is of rare simplicity

and sincerity; he always has been, and he remains, genuinely indifferent to

wealth and fame and the other prizes so dear to ambition. At the same time he

is no recluse, shutting himself off from the sorrows and agitations of the world

around him. Himself familiar from early years with the handicap of poverty

and with some of the worst forms of man's inhumanity to man, he has never

spared himself in defence of the weak and the oppressed. Nothing could be

more unwelcome to his sensitive and retiring character than the glare of the

platform and the heat of public controversy, yet he has never hesitated when

he felt that his voice or influence would help to redress a wrong. History,

surely, has few parallels with this introspective mathematical genius who

laboured unceasingly as an eager champion of the rights of man.


Albert Einstein was born in 1879 at Ulm. When he was four years old his

father, who owned an electrochemical works, moved to Munich, and two

years later the boy went to school, experiencing a rigid, almost military, type

of discipline and also the isolation of a shy and contemplative Jewish child

among Roman Catholics-- factors which made a deep and enduring

impression. From the point of view of his teachers he was an unsatisfactory

pupil, apparently incapable of progress in languages, history, geography, and

other primary subjects. His interest in mathematics was roused, not by his

instructors, but by a Jewish medical student, Max Talmey, who gave him a

book on geometry, and so set him upon a course of enthusiastic study which

made him, at the age of fourteen, a better mathematician than his masters. At

this stage also he began the study of philosophy, reading and re-reading the

words of Kant and other metaphysicians.

Business reverses led the elder Einstein to make a fresh start in Milan, thus

introducing Albert to the joys of a freer, sunnier life than had been possible in

Germany. Necessity, however, made this holiday a brief one, and after a few

months of freedom the preparation for a career began. It opened with an

effort, backed by a certificate of mathematical proficiency given by a teacher

in the Gymnasium at Munich, to obtain admission to the Polytechnic Academy

at Zurich. A year passed in the study of necessary subjects which he had

neglected for mathematics, but once admitted, the young Einstein became

absorbed in the pursuit of science and philosophy and made astonishing

progress. After five distinguished years at the Polytechnic he hoped to step

into the post of assistant professor, but found that the kindly words of the

professors who had stimulated the hope did not materialize.

Then followed a weary search for work, two brief interludes of teaching, and

a stable appointment as examiner at the Confederate Patent Office at Berrie.

Humdrum as the work was, it had the double advantage of providing a

competence and of leaving his mind free for the mathematical speculations

which were then taking shape in the theory of relativity. In 1905 his first

monograph on the theory was published in a Swiss scientific journal, the

Annalen der Physik. Zurich awoke to the fact that it possessed a genius in

the form of a patent office clerk, promoted him to be a lecturer at the

University and four years later--in 1909--installed him as Professor.

His next appointment was (in 1911) at the University of Prague, where he

remained for eighteen months. Following a brief return to Zurich, he went,

early in 1914, to Berlin as a professor in the Prussian Academy of Sciences

and director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Theoretical Physics. The

period of the Great War was a trying time for Einstein, who could not conceal

his ardent pacifism, but he found what solace he could in his studies. Later


events brought him into the open and into many parts of the world, as an

exponent not only of pacifism but also of world-disarmament and the cause of

Jewry. To a man of such views, as passionately held as they were by Einstein,

Germany under the Nazis was patently impossible. In 1933 Einstein made his

famous declaration: "As long as I have any choice, I will stay only in a country

where political liberty, toleration, and equality of all citizens before the law are

the rule." For a time he was a homeless exile; after offers had come to him

from Spain and France and Britain, he settled in Princeton as Professor of

Mathematical and Theoretical Physics, happy in his work, rejoicing in a free

environment, but haunted always by the tragedy of war and oppression.

The World As I See It, in its original form, includes essays by Einstein on

relativity and cognate subjects. For reasons indicated above, these have been

omitted in the present edition; the object of this reprint is simply to reveal to

the general reader the human side of one of the most dominating figures of our




The World As I See It

The Meaning of Life

What is the meaning of human life, or of organic life altogether? To answer

this question at all implies a religion. Is there any sense then, you ask, in

putting it? I answer, the man who regards his own life and that of his

fellow-creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost

disqualified for life.

The World as I see it

What an extraordinary situation is that of us mortals! Each of us is here for a

brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he

feels it. But from the point of view of daily life, without going deeper, we exist

for our fellow-men--in the first place for those on whose smiles and welfare all

our happiness depends, and next for all those unknown to us personally with

whose destinies we are bound up by the tie of sympathy. A hundred times

every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours

of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in

the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. I am strongly

drawn to the simple life and am often oppressed by the feeling that I am

engrossing an unnecessary amount of the labour of my fellow-men. I regard

class differences as contrary to justice and, in the last resort, based on force. I

also consider that plain living is good for everybody, physically and mentally.

In human freedom in the philosophical sense I am definitely a disbeliever.

Everybody acts not only under external compulsion but also in accordance

with inner necessity. Schopenhauer's saying, that "a man can do as he will, but

not will as he will," has been an inspiration to me since my youth up, and a

continual consolation and unfailing well-spring of patience in the face of the

hardships of life, my own and others'. This feeling mercifully mitigates the

sense of responsibility which so easily becomes paralysing, and it prevents us

from taking ourselves and other people too seriously; it conduces to a view of

life in which humour, above all, has its due place.

To inquire after the meaning or object of one's own existence or of creation

generally has always seemed to me absurd from an objective point of view.


And yet everybody has certain ideals which determine the direction of his

endeavours and his judgments. In this sense I have never looked upon ease

and happiness as ends in themselves--such an ethical basis I call more proper

for a herd of swine. The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time

after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth,

Goodness, and Beauty. Without the sense of fellowship with men of like mind,

of preoccupation with the objective, the eternally unattainable in the field of art

and scientific research, life would have seemed to me empty. The ordinary

objects of human endeavour--property, outward success, luxury--have

always seemed to me contemptible.

My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always

contrasted oddly with my pronounced freedom from the need for direct

contact with other human beings and human communities. I gang my own gait

and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my

immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties I have never

lost an obstinate sense of detachment, of the need for solitude--a feeling

which increases with the years. One is sharply conscious, yet without regret,

of the limits to the possibility of mutual understanding and sympathy with one's

fellow-creatures. Such a person no doubt loses something in the way of

geniality and light-heartedness ; on the other hand, he is largely independent of

the opinions, habits, and judgments of his fellows and avoids the temptation to

take his stand on such insecure foundations.

My political ideal is that of democracy. Let every man be respected as an

individual and no man idolized. It is an irony of fate that I myself have been the

recipient of excessive admiration and respect from my fellows through no

fault, and no merit, of my own. The cause of this may well be the desire,

unattainable for many, to understand the one or two ideas to which I have

with my feeble powers attained through ceaseless struggle. I am quite aware

that it is necessary for the success of any complex undertaking that one man

should do the thinking and directing and in general bear the responsibility. But

the led must not be compelled, they must be able to choose their leader. An

autocratic system of coercion, in my opinion, soon degenerates. For force

always attracts men of low morality, and I believe it to be an invariable rule

that tyrants of genius are succeeded by scoundrels. For this reason I have

always been passionately opposed to systems such as we see in Italy and

Russia to-day. The thing that has brought discredit upon the prevailing form of

democracy in Europe to-day is not to be laid to the door of the democratic

idea as such, but to lack of stability on the part of the heads of governments

and to the impersonal character of the electoral system. I believe that in this

respect the United States of America have found the right way. They have a

responsible President who is elected for a sufficiently long period and has


sufficient powers to be really responsible. On the other hand, what I value in

our political system is the more extensive provision that it makes for the

individual in case of illness or need. The really valuable thing in the pageant of

human life seems to me not the State but the creative, sentient individual, the

personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such

remains dull in thought and dull in feeling.

This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of the herd nature, the military

system, which I abhor. That a man can take pleasure in marching in formation

to the strains of a band is enough to make me despise him. He has only been

given his big brain by mistake; a backbone was all he needed. This

plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed.

Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that does

by the name of patriotism--how I hate them! War seems to me a mean,

contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such

an abominable business. And yet so high, in spite of everything, is my opinion

of the human race that I believe this bogey would have disappeared long ago,

had the sound sense of the nations not been systematically corrupted by

commercial and political interests acting through the schools and the Press.

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental

emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who

knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good

as dead, a snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery--even if

mixed with fear--that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of

something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest

reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in

their most elementary forms--it is this knowledge and this emotion that

constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a

deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes

his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves.

An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my

comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or

absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of

life, and the inkling of the marvellous structure of reality, together with the

single-hearted endeavour to comprehend a portion, be it never so tiny, of the

reason that manifests itself in nature.

The Liberty of Doctrine--à propos of the Guntbel Case

Academic chairs are many, but wise and noble teachers are few;

lecture-rooms are numerous and large, but the number of young people who


genuinely thirst after truth and justice is small. Nature scatters her common

wares with a lavish hand, but the choice sort she produces but seldom.

We all know that, so why complain? Was it not ever thus and will it not ever

thus remain? Certainly, and one must take what Nature gives as one finds it.

But there is also such a thing as a spirit of the times, an attitude of mind

characteristic of a particular generation, which is passed on from individual to

individual and gives a society its particular tone. Each of us has to do his little

bit towards transforming this spirit of the times.

Compare the spirit which animated the youth in our universities a hundred

years ago with that prevailing to-day. They had faith in the amelioration of

human society, respect for every honest opinion, the tolerance for which our

classics had lived and fought. In those days men strove for a larger political

unity, which at that time was called Germany. It was the students and the

teachers at the universities who kept these ideals alive.

To-day also there is an urge towards social progress, towards tolerance and

freedom of thought, towards a larger political unity, which we to-day call

Europe. But the students at our universities have ceased as completely as their

teachers to enshrine the hopes and ideals of the nation. Anyone who looks at

our times coolly and dispassionately must admit this.

We are assembled to-day to take stock of ourselves. The external reason for

this meeting is the Gumbel case. This apostle of justice has written about

unexpiated political crimes with devoted industry, high courage, and

exemplary fairness, and has done the community a signal service by his

books. And this is the man whom the students, and a good many of the staff,

of his university are to-day doing their best to expel.

Political passion cannot be allowed to go to such lengths. I am convinced that

every man who reads Herr Gumbel's books with an open mind will get the

same impression from them as I have. Men like him are needed if we are ever

to build up a healthy political society.

Let every man judge according to his own standards, by what he has himself

read, not by what others tell him.

If that happens, this Gumbel case, after an unedifying beginning, may still do



Good and Evil

It is right in principle that those should be the best loved who have contributed

most to the elevation of the human race and human life. But, if one goes on to

ask who they are, one finds oneself in no inconsiderable difficulties. In the

case of political, and even of religious, leaders, it is often very doubtful

whether they have done more good or harm. Hence I most seriously believe

that one does people the best service by giving them some elevating work to

do and thus indirectly elevating them. This applies most of all to the great

artist, but also in a lesser degree to the scientist. To be sure, it is not the fruits

of scientific research that elevate a man and enrich his nature, but the urge to

understand, the intellectual work, creative or receptive. It would surely be

absurd to judge the value of the Talmud, for instance, by its intellectual fruits.

The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure

and the sense in which he has attained to liberation from the self.

Society and Personality

When we survey our lives and endeavours we soon observe that almost the

whole of our actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other

human beings. We see that our whole nature resembles that of the social

animals. We eat food that others have grow, wear clothes that others have

made, live in houses that others have built. The greater part of our knowledge

and beliefs has been communicated to us by other people through the medium

of a language which others have created. Without language our mental

capacities wuuld be poor indeed, comparable to those of the higher animals;

we have, therefore, to admit that we owe our principal advantage over the

beasts to the fact of living in human society. The individual, if left alone from

birth would remain primitive and beast-like in his thoughts and feelings to a

degree that we can hardly conceive. The individual is what he is and has the

significance that he has not so much in virtue of his individuality, but rather as a

member of a great human society, which directs his material and spiritual

existence from the cradle to the grave.

A man's value to the community depends primarily on how far his feelings,

thoughts, and actions are directed towards promoting the good of his fellows.

We call him good or bad according to how he stands in this matter. It looks at

first sight as if our estimate of a man depended entirely on his social qualities.


And yet such an attitude would be wrong. It is clear that all the valuable

things, material, spiritual, and moral, which we receive from society can be

traced back through countless generations to certain creative individuals. The

use of fire, the cultivation of edible plants, the steam engine--each was

discovered by one man.

Only the individual can think, and thereby create new values for society--nay,

even set up new moral standards to which the life of the community conforms.

Without creative, independently thinking and judging personalities the upward

development of society is as unthinkable as the development of the individual

personality without the nourishing soil of the community.

The health of society thus depends quite as much on the independence of the

individuals composing it as on their close political cohesion. It has been said

very justly that Græco-Europeo-American culture as a whole, and in

particular its brilliant flowering in the Italian Renaissance, which put an end to

the stagnation of mediæval Europe, is based on the liberation and comparative

isolation of the individual.

Let us now consider the times in which we live. How does society fare, how

the individual? The population of the civilized countries is extremely dense as

compared with former times; Europe to-day contains about three times as

many people as it did a hundred years ago. But the number of great men has

decreased out of all proportion. Only a few individuals are known to the

masses as personalities, through their creative achievements. Organization has

to some extent taken the place of the great man, particularly in the technical

sphere, but also to a very perceptible extent in the scientific.

The lack of outstanding figures is particularly striking in the domain of art.

Painting and music have definitely degenerated and largely lost their popular

appeal. In politics not only are leaders lacking, but the independence of spent

and the sense of justice of the citizen have to a great extent declined. The

democratic, parliamentarian regime, which is based on such independence,

has in many places been shaken, dictatorships have sprung up and are

tolerated, because men's sense of the dignity and the rights of the individual is

no longer strong enough. In two weeks the sheep-like masses can be worked

up by the newspapers into such a state of excited fury that the men are

prepared to put on uniform and kill and be billed, for the sake of the worthless

aims of a few interested parties. Compulsory military service seems to me the

most disgraceful symptom of that deficiency in personal dignity from which

civilized mankind is suffering to-day. No wonder there is no lack of prophets

who prophesy the early eclipse of our civilization. I am not one of these

pessimists; I believe that better times are coming. Let me shortly state my


reasons for such confidence.

In my opinion, the present symptoms of decadence are explained by the fact

that the development of industry and machinery has made the struggle for

existence very much more severe, greatly to the detriment of the free

development of the individual. But the development of machinery means that

less and less work is needed from the individual for the satisfaction of the

community's needs. A planned division of labour is becoming more and more

of a crying necessity, and this division will lead to the material security of the

individual. This security and the spare time and energy which the individual will

have at his command can be made to further his development. In this way the

community may regain its health, and we will hope that future historians will

explain the morbid symptoms of present-day society as the childhood ailments

of an aspiring humanity, due entirely to the excessive speed at which

civilization was advancing.

Address at the Grave of H. A. Lorentz

It is as the representative of the German-speaking academic world, and in

particular the Prussian Academy of Sciences, but above all as a pupil and

affectionate admirer that I stand at the grave of the greatest and noblest man

of our times. His genius was the torch which lighted the way from the

teachings of Clerk Maxwell to the achievements of contemporary physics, to

the fabric of which he contributed valuable materials and methods.

His life was ordered like a work of art down to the smallest detail. His

never-failing kindness and magnanimity and his sense of justice, coupled with

an intuitive understanding of people and things, made him a leader in any

sphere he entered. Everyone followed him gladly, for they felt that he never

set out to dominate but always simply to be of use. His work and his example

will live on as an inspiration and guide to future generations.

H. A. Lorentz's work in the cause of International


With the extensive specialization of scientific research which the nineteenth

century brought about, it has become rare for a man occupying a leading

position in one of the sciences to manage at the same time to do valuable

service to the community in the sphere of international organization and

international. politics. Such service demands not only energy, insight, and a

reputation based on solid achievements, but also a freedom from national

prejudice and a devotion to the common ends of all, which have become rare


in our times. I have met no one who combined all these qualities in himself so

perfectly as H. A. Lorentz. The marvellous thing about the effect of his

personality was this: Independent and headstrong natures, such as are

particularly common among men of learning, do not readily bow to another's

will and for the most part only accept his leadership grudgingly. But, when

Lorentz is in the presidential chair, an atmosphere of happy co-operation is

invariably created, however much those present may differ in their aims and

habits of thought. The secret of this success lies not only in his swift

comprehension of people and things and his marvellous command of

language, but above all in this, that one feels that his whole heart is in the

business in hand, and that, when he is at work, he has room for nothing else in

his mind. Nothing disarms the recalcitrant so much as this.

Before the war Lorentz's activities in the cause of international relations were

confined to presiding at congresses of physicists. Particularly noteworthy

among these were the Solvay Congresses, the first two of which were held at

Brussels in 1909 and 1912. Then came the European war, which was a

crushing blow to all who had the improvement of human relations in general at

heart. Even before the war was over, and still more after its end, Lorentz

devoted himself to the work of reconciliation. His efforts were especially

directed towards the re-establishment of fruitful and friendly co-operation

between men of learning and scientific societies. An outsider can hardly

conceive what uphill work this is. The accumulated resentment of the war

period has not yet died down, and many influential men persist in the

irreconcilable attitude into which they allowed themselves to be driven by the

pressure of circumstances. Hence Lorentz's efforts resemble those of a doctor

with a recalcitrant patient who refuses to take the medicines carefully

prepared for his benefit.

But Lorentz is not to be deterred, once he has recognized a course of action

as the right one. The moment the war was over, he joined the governing body

of the "Conseil de recherche," which was founded by the savants of the

victorious countries, and from which the savants and learned societies of the

Central Powers were excluded. His object in taking this step, which caused

great offence to the academic world of the Central Powers, was to influence

this institution in such a way that it could be expanded into something truly

international. He and other right-minded men succeeded, after repeated

efforts, in securing the removal of the offensive exclusion-clause from the

statutes of the "Conseil." The goal, which is the restoration of normal and

fruitful co-operation between learned societies, is, however, not yet attained,

because the academic world of the Central Powers, exasperated by nearly

ten years of exclusion from practically all international gatherings, has got into

a habit of keeping itself to itself. Now, however, there are good grounds for


hoping that the ice will soon be broken, thanks to the tactful efforts of

Lorentz, prompted by pure enthusiasm for the good cause.

Lorentz has also devoted his energies to the service of international cultural

ends in another way, by consenting to serve on the League of Nations

Commission for international intellectual co-operation, which was called into

existence some five years ago with Bergson as chairman. For the last year

Lorentz has presided over the Commission, which, with the active support of

its subordinate, the Paris Institute, is to act as a go-between in the domain of

intellectual and artistic work among the various spheres of culture. There too

the beneficent influence of this intelligent, humane, and modest personality,

whose unspoken but faithfully followed advice is, "Not mastery but service,"

will lead people in the right way.

May his example contribute to the triumph of that spirit !

In Honour of Arnold Berliner's Seventieth Birthday

(Arnold Berliner is the editor of the periodical Die


I should like to take this opportunity of telling my friend Berliner and the

readers of this paper why I rate him and his work so highly. It has to be done

here because it is one's only chance of getting such things said; since our

training in objectivity has led to a taboo on everything personal, which we

mortals may transgress only on quite exceptional occasions such as the

present one.

And now, after this dash for liberty, back to the objective! The province of

scientifically determined fact has been enormously extended, theoretical

knowledge has become vastly more profound in every department of science.

But the assimilative power of the human intellect is and remains strictly limited.

Hence it was inevitable that the activity of the individual investigator should be

confined to a smaller and smaller section of human knowledge. Worse still, as

a result of this specialization, it is becoming increasingly difficult for even a

rough general grasp of science as a whole, without which the true spirit of

research is inevitably handicapped, to keep pace with progress. A situation is

developing similar to the one symbolically represented in the Bible by the

story of the Tower of Babel. Every serious scientific worker is painfully

conscious of this involuntary relegation to an ever-narrowing sphere of

knowledge, which is threatening to deprive the investigator of his broad

horizon and degrade him to the level of a mechanic.


We have all suffered under this evil, without making any effort to mitigate it.

But Berliner has come to the rescue, as far as the German-speaking world is

concerned, in the most admirable way: He saw that the existing popular

periodicals were sufficient to instruct and stimulate the layman; but he also

saw that a first-class, well-edited organ was needed for the guidance of the

scientific worker who desired to be put sufficiently au courant of

developments in scientific problems, methods, and results to be able to form a

judgment of his own. Through many years of hard work he has devoted

himself to this object with great intelligence and no less great determination,

and done us all, and science, a service for which we cannot be too grateful.

It was necessary for him to secure the co-operation of successful scientific

writers and induce them to say what they had to say in a form as far as

possible intelligible to non-specialists. He has often told me of the fights he

had in pursuing this object, the difficulties of which he once described to me in

the following riddle: Question : What is a scientific author? Answer: A cross

between a mimosa and a porcupine.* Berliner's achievement would have

been impossible but for the peculiar intensity of his longing for a clear,

comprehensive view of the largest possible area of scientific country. This

feeling also drove him to produce a text-book of physics, the fruit of many

years of strenuous work, of which a medical student said to me the other day:

"I don't know how I should ever have got a clear idea of the principles of

modern physics in the time at my disposal without this book."

Berliner's fight for clarity and comprehensiveness of outlook has done a great

deal to bring the problems, methods, and results of science home to many

people's minds. The scientific life of our time is simply inconceivable vzthout

his paper. It is just as important to make knowledge live and to keep it alive

as to solve specific problems. We are all conscious of what we owe to

Arnold Berliner.

*Do not be angry with me for this indiscretion, my dear Berliner. A

serious-minded man enjoys a good laugh now and then.

Popper-Lynhaus was more than a brilliant engineer and writer. He was one

of the few outstanding personalities who embody the conscience of a

generation. He has drummed it into us that society is responsible for the fate

of every individual and shown us a way to translate the consequent obligation

of the community into fact. The community or State was no fetish to him; he

based its right to demand sacrifices of the individual entirely on its duty to give

the individual personality a chance of harmonious development.


Obituary of the Surgeon, M. Katzenstein

During the eighteen years I spent in Berlin I had few close friends, and the

closest was Professor Katzenstein. For more than ten years I spent my leisure

hours during the summer months with him, mostly on his delightful yacht.

There we confided our experiences, ambitions, emotions to each other. We

both felt that this friendship was not only a blessing because each understood

the other, was enriched by him, and found ins him that responsive echo so

essential to anybody who is truly alive; it also helped to make both of us more

independent of external experience, to objectivize it more easily.

I was a free man, bound neither by many duties nor by harassing

responsibilities; my friend, on the contrary, was never free from the grip of

urgent duties and anxious fears for the fate of those in peril. If, as was

invariably the case, he had performed some dangerous operations in the

morning, he would ring up on the telephone, immediately before we got into

the boat, to enquire after the condition of the patients about whom he was

worried; I could see how deeply concerned he was for the lives entrusted to

his care. It was marvellous that this shackled outward existence did not clip

the wings of his soul; his imagination and his sense of humour were

irrepressible. He never became the typical conscientious North German,

whom the Italians in the days of their freedom used to call bestia seriosa. He

was sensitive as a youth to the tonic beauty of the lakes and woods of

Brandenburg, and as he sailed the boat with an expert hand through these

beloved and familiar surroundings he opened the secret treasure-chamber of

his heart to me--he spoke of his experiments, scientific ideas, and ambitions.

How he found time and energy for them was always a mystery to me; but the

passion for scientific enquiry is not to be crushed by any burdens. The man

who is possessed with it perishes sooner than it does.

There were two types of problems that engaged his attention. The first forced

itself on him out of the necessities of his practice. Thus he was always thinking

out new ways of inducing healthy muscles to take the place of lost ones, by

ingenious transplantation of tendons. He found this remarkably easy, as he

possessed an uncommonly strong spatial imagination and a remarkably sure

feeling for mechanism. How happy he was when he had succeeded in making

somebody fit for normal life by putting right the muscular system of his face,

foot, or arm! And the same when he avoided an operation, even in cases

which had been sent to him by physicians for surgical treatment in cases of

gastric ulcer by neutralizing the pepsin. He also set great store by the

treatment of peritonitis by an anti-toxic coli-serum which he discovered, and

rejoiced in the successes he achieved with it. In talking of it he often lamented


the fact that this method of treatment was not endorsed by his colleagues.

The second group of problems had to do with the common conception of an

antagonism between different sorts of tissue. He believed that he was here on

the track of a general biological principle of widest application, whose

implications he followed out with admirable boldness and persistence. Starting

out from this basic notion he discovered that osteomyelon and periosteum

prevent each other's growth if they are not separated from each other by

bone. In this way he succeeded in explaining hitherto inexplicable cases of

wounds ailing to heal, and in bringing about a cure.

This general notion of the antagonism of the tissues, especially of epithelium

and connective tissue, was the subject to which he devoted his scientific

energies, especially in the last ten years of his life. Experiments on animals and

a systematic investigation of the growth of tissues in a nutrient fluid were

carried out side by side. How thankful he was, with his hands tied as they

were by his duties, to have found such an admirable and infinitely enthusiastic

fellow-worker in Frälein Knake! He succeeded in securing wonderful results

bearing on the factors which favour the growth of epithelium at the expense of

that of connective tissue, results which may well be of decisive importance for

the study of cancer. He also had the pleasure of inspiring his own son to

become his intelligent and independent fellow-worker, and of exciting the

warm interest and co-operation of Sauerbruch just in the last years of his life,

so that he was able to die with the consoling thought that his life's work would

not perish, but would be vigorously continued on the lines he had laid down.

I for my part am grateful to fate for having given me this man, with his

inexhaustible goodness and high creative gifts, for a friend.

Congratulations to Dr. Solf

I am delighted to be able to offer you, Dr. Solf, the heartiest congratulations,

the congratulations of Lessing College, of which you have become an

indispensable pillar, and the congratulations of all who are convinced of the

need for close contact between science and art and the public which is hungry

for spiritual nourishment.

You have not hesitated to apply your energies to a field where there are no

laurels to be won, but quiet, loyal work to be done in the interests of the

general standard of intellectual and spiritual life, which is in peculiar danger

to-day owing to a variety of circumstances. Exaggerated respect for athletics,

an excess of coarse impressions which the complications of life through the

technical discoveries of recent years has brought with it, the increased severity


of the struggle for existence due to the economic crisis, the brutalization of

political life--all these factors are hostile to the ripening of the character and

the desire for real culture, and stamp our age as barbarous, materialistic, and

superficial. Specialization in every sphere of intellectual work is producing an

everwidening gulf between the intellectual worker and the non-specialist,

which makes it more difficult for the life of the nation to be fertilized and

enriched by the achievements of art and science.

But contact between the intellectual and the masses must not be lost. It is

necessary for the elevation of society and no less so for renewing the strength

of the intellectual worker; for the flower of science does not grow in the

desert. For this reason you, Herr Solf, have devoted a portion of your

energies to Lessing College, and we are grateful to you for doing so. And we

wish you further success and happiness in your work for this noble cause.

Of Wealth

I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity

forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in this cause. The

example of great and pure characters is the only thing that can produce fine

ideas and noble deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness and always tempts

its owners irresistibly to abuse it.

Can anyone imagine Moses, Jesus, or Gandhi armed with the money-bags of


Education and Educators

A letter.

Dear Miss _____,

I have read about sixteen pages of your manuscript and it made

me--smile. It is clever, well observed, honest, it stands on its

own feet up to a point, and yet it is so typically feminine, by

which I mean derivative and vitiated by personal rancour. I

suffered exactly the same treatment at the hands of my teachers,

who disliked me for my independence and passed me over

when they wanted assistants (I must admit that I was somewhat

less of a model student than you). But it would not have been

worth my while to write anything about my school life, still less

would I have liked to be responsible for anyone's printing or

actually reading it. Besides, one always cuts a poor figure if one


complains about others who are struggling for their place in the

sun too after their own fashion.

Therefore pocket your temperament and keep your manuscript

for your sons and daughters, m order that they may derive

consolation from it and--not give a damn for what their teachers

tell them or think of them.

Incidentally I am only coming to Princeton to research, not to

teach. There is too much education altogether, especially in

American schools. The only rational way of educating is to be an

example--of what to avoid, if one can't be the other sort.

With best wishes.

To the Schoolchildren of Japan

In sending this greeting to you Japanese schoolchildren, I can lay claim to a

special right to do so. For I have myself visited your beautiful country, seen its

cities and houses, its mountains and woods, and in them Japanese boys who

had learnt from them to love their country. A big fat book full of coloured

drawings by Japanese children lies always on my table.

If you get my message of greeting from all this distance, bethink you that ours

is the first age in history to bring about friendly and understanding intercourse

between people of different countries; in former times nations passed their

lives in mutual ignorance, and in fact hated or feared one another. May the

spirit of brotherly understanding gain ground more and more among them.

With this in mind I, an old man, greet you Japanese schoolchildren from afar

and hope that your generation may some day put mine to shame.

Teachers and Pupils

An address to children

(The principal art of the teacher is to awaken the joy in creation

and knowledge.)

My dear Children,

I rejoice to see you before me to-day, happy youth of a sunny and fortunate



Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work

of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labour in

every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance

in order that you may receive it, honour it, add to it, and one day faithfully

hand it on to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the

permanent things which we create in common.

If you always keep that in mind you will find a meaning in life and work and

acquire the right attitude towards other nations and ages.

Paradise Lost

As late as the seventeenth century the savants and artists of all Europe were

so closely united by the bond of a common ideal that co-operation between

them was scarcely affected by political events. This unity was further

strengthened by the general use of the Latin language.

To-day we look back at this state of affairs as at a lost paradise. The passions

of nationalism have destroyed this community of the intellect, and the Latin

language, which once united the whole world, is dead. The men of learning

have become the chief mouthpieces of national tradition and lost their sense of

an intellectual commonwealth.

Nowadays we are faced with the curious fact that the politicians, the practical

men of affairs, have become the exponents of international ideas. It is they

who have created the League of Nations.

Religion and Science

Everything that the human race has done and thought is concerned with the

satisfaction of felt needs and the assuagement of pain. One has to keep this

constantly in mind if one wishes to understand spiritual movements and their

development. Feeling and desire are the motive forces behind all human

endeavour and human creation, in however exalted a guise the latter may

present itself to us. Now what are the feelings and needs that have led men to

religious thought and belief in the widest sense of the words? A little

consideration will suffice to show us that the most varying emotions preside

over the birth of religious thought and experience. With primitive man it is

above all fear that evokes religious notions--fear of hunger, wild beasts,

sickness, death. Since at this stage of existence understanding of causal

connexions is usually poorly developed, the human mind creates for itself

more or less analogous beings on whose wills and actions these fearful


happenings depend. One's object now is to secure the favour of these beings

by carrying out actions and offering sacrifices which, according to the tradition

handed down from generation to generation, propitiate them or make them

well disposed towards a mortal. I am speaking now of the religion of fear.

This, though not created, is in an important degree stabilized by the formation

of a special priestly caste which sets up as a mediator between the people and

the beings they fear, and erects a hegemony on this basis. In many cases the

leader or ruler whose position depends on other factors, or a privileged class,

combines priestly functions with its secular authority in order to make the

latter more secure; or the political rulers and the priestly caste make common

cause in their own interests.

The social feelings are another source of the crystallization of religion. Fathers

and mothers and the leaders of larger human communities are mortal and

fallible. The desire for guidance, love, and support prompts men to form the

social or moral conception of God. This is the God of Providence who

protects, disposes, rewards, and punishes, the God who, according to the

width of the believer's outlook, loves and cherishes the life of the tribe or of

the human race, or even life as such, the comforter in sorrow and unsatisfied

longing, who preserves the souls of the dead. This is the social or moral

conception of God.

The Jewish scriptures admirably illustrate the development from the religion of

fear to moral religion, which is continued in the New Testament. The religions

of all civilized peoples, especially the peoples of the Orient, are primarily

moral religions. The development from a religion of fear to moral religion is a

great step in a nation's life. That primitive religions are based entirely on fear

and the religions of civilized peoples purely on morality is a prejudice against

which we must be on our guard. The truth is that they are all intermediate

types, with this reservation, that on the higher levels of social life the religion of

morality predominates.

Common to all these types is the anthropomorphic character of their

conception of God. Only individuals of exceptional endowments and

exceptionally high-minded communities, as a general rule, get in any real sense

beyond this level. But there is a third state of religious experience which

belongs to all of them, even though it is rarely found in a pure form, and which

I will call cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to explain this feeling to

anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic

conception of God corresponding to it.

The individual feels the nothingness of human desires and aims and the

sublimity and marvellous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in


the world of thought. He looks upon individual existence as a sort of prison

and wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole. The

beginnings of cosmic religious feeling already appear in earlier stages of

development--e.g., in many of the Psalms of David and in some of the

Prophets. Buddhism, as we have learnt from the wonderful writings of

Schopenhauer especially, contains a much stronger element of it.

The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of

religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's

image; so that there can be no Church whose central teachings are based on

it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who

were filled with the highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases

regarded by their contemporaries as Atheists, sometimes also as saints.

Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza

are closely akin to one another.

How can cosmic religious feeling be communicated from one person to

another, if it can give rise to no definite notion of a God and no theology? In

my view, it is the most important function of art and science to awaken this

feeling and keep it alive in those who are capable of it.

We thus arrive at a conception of the relation of science to religion very

different from the usual one. When one views the matter historically one is

inclined to look upon science and religion as irreconcilable antagonists, and

for a very obvious reason. The man who is thoroughly convinced of the

universal operation of the law of causation cannot for a moment entertain the

idea of a being who interferes in the course of events--that is, if he takes the

hypothesis of causality really seriously. He has no use for the religion of fear

and equally little for social or moral religion. A God who rewards and

punishes is inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a man's actions are

determined by necessity, external and internal, so that in God's eyes he cannot

be responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the

motions it goes through. Hence science has been charged with undermining

morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical behaviour should be based

effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is

necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by

fear and punishment and hope of reward after death.

It is therefore easy to see why the Churches have always fought science and

persecuted its devotees. On the other hand, I maintain that cosmic religious

feeling is the strongest and noblest incitement to scientific research. Only those

who realize the immense efforts and, above all, the devotion which pioneer

work in theoretical science demands, can grasp the strength of the emotion


out of which alone such work, remote as it is from the immediate realities of

life, can issue. What a deep conviction of the rationality of the universe and

what a yearning to understand, were it but a feeble reflection of the mind

revealed in this world, Kepler and Newton must have had to enable them to

spend years of solitary labour in disentangling the principles of celestial

mechanics! Those whose acquaintance with scientific research is derived

chiefly from its practical results easily develop a completely false notion of the

mentality of the men who, surrounded by a sceptical world, have shown the

way to those like-minded with themselves, scattered through the earth and the

centuries. Only one who has devoted his life to similar ends can have a vivid

realization of what has inspired these men and given them the strength to

remain true to their purpose in spite of countless failures. It is cosmic religious

feeling that gives a man strength of this sort. A contemporary has said, not

unjustly, that in this materialistic age of ours the serious scientific workers are

the only profoundly religious people.

The Religiousness of Science

You will hardly find one among the profounder sort of scientific minds without

a peculiar religious feeling of his own. But it is different from the religion of the

naive man. For the latter God is a being from whose care one hopes to benefit

and whose punishment one fears; a sublimation of a feeling similar to that of a

child for its father, a being to whom one stands to some extent in a personal

relation, however deeply it may be tinged with awe.

But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. The future,

to him, is every whit as necessary and determined as the past. There is nothing

divine about morality, it is a purely human affair. His religious feeling takes the

form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals

an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic

thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection. This

feeling is the guiding principle of his life and work, in so far as he succeeds in

keeping himself from the shackles of selfish desire. It is beyond question

closely akin to that which has possessed the religious geniuses of all ages.

The Plight of Science

The German-speaking countries are menaced by a danger to which those in

the know are in duty bound to call attention in the most emphatic terms. The

economic stress which political events bring in their train does not hit

everybody equally hard. Among the hardest hit are the institutions and

individuals whose material existence depends directly on the State. To this

category belong the scientific institutions and workers on whose work not


merely the well-being of science but also the position occupied by Germany

and Austria in the scale of culture very largely depends.

To grasp the full gravity of the situation it is necessary to bear in mind the

following consideration. In times of crisis people are generally blind to

everything outside their immediate necessities. For work which is directly

productive of material wealth they will pay. But science, if it is to flourish, must

have no practical end in view. As a general rule, the knowledge and the

methods which it creates only subserve practical ends indirectly and, in many

cases, not till after the lapse of several generations. Neglect of science leads

to a subsequent dearth of intellectual workers able, in virtue of their

independent outlook and judgment, to blaze new trails for industry or adapt

themselves to new situations. Where scientific enquiry is stunted the

intellectual life of the nation dries up, which means the withering of many

possibilities of future development. This is what we have to prevent. Now that

the State has been weakened as a result of nonpolitical causes, it is up to the

economically stronger members of the community to come to the rescue

directly, and prevent the decay of scientific life.

Far-sighted men with a clear understanding of the situation have set up

institutions by which scientific work of every sort is to be kept going in

Germany and Austria. Help to make these efforts a real success. In my

teaching work I see with admiration that economic troubles have not yet

succeeded in stifling the will and the enthusiasm for scientific research. Far

from it! Indeed, it looks as if our disasters had actually quickened the

devotion to non-material goods. Everywhere people are working with burning

enthusiasm in the most difficult circumstances. See to it that the will-power

and the talents of the youth of to-day do not perish to the grievous hurt of the

community as a whole.

Fascism and Science

A letter to Signor Rocco, Minister of State, Rome.

My dear Sir,

Two of the most eminent and respected men of science in Italy

have applied to me in their difficulties of conscience and

requested me to write to you with the object of preventing, if

possible, a piece of cruel persecution with which men of learning

are threatened in Italy. I refer to a form of oath in which fidelity

to the Fascist system is to be promised. The burden of my

request is that you should please advise Signor Mussolini to


spare the flower of Italy's intellect this humiliation.

However much our political convictions may differ, I know that

we agree on one point: in the progressive achievements of the

European mind both of us see and love our highest good. Those

achievements are based on the freedom of thought and of

teaching, on the principle that the desire for truth must take

precedence of all other desires. It was this basis alone that

enabled our civilization to take its rise in Greece and to celebrate

its rebirth in Italy at the Renaissance. This supreme good has

been paid for by the martyr's blood of pure and great men, for

whose sake Italy is still loved and reverenced to-day.

Far be it from me to argue with you about what inroads on

human liberty may be justified by reasons of State. But the

pursuit of scientific truth, detached from the practical interests of

everyday life, ought to be treated as sacred by every

Government, and it is in the highest interests of all that honest

servants of truth should be left in peace. This is also undoubtedly

in the interests of the Italian State and its prestige in the eyes of

the world.

Hoping that my request will not fall on deaf ears, I am, etc.

A. E.


To be called to account publicly for everything one has said, even in jest, an

excess of high spirits, or momentary anger, fatal as it must be in the end, is yet

up to a point reasonable and natural. But to be called to account publicly for

what others have said in one's name, when one cannot defend oneself, is

indeed a sad predicament. "But who suffers such a dreadful fate?" you will

ask. Well, everyone who is of sufficient interest to the public to be pursued by

interviewers. You smile incredulously, but I have had plenty of direct

experience and will tell you about it.

Imagine the following situation. One morning a reporter comes to you and

asks you in a friendly way to tell him something about your friend N. At first

you no doubt feel something approaching indignation at such a proposal. But

you soon discover that there is no escape. If you refuse to say anything, the

man writes: "I asked one of N.'s supposedly best friends about him. But he

prudently avoided my questions. This in itself enables the reader to draw the


inevitable conclusions." There is, therefore, no escape, and you give the

following information: "Mr. N. is a cheerful, straightforward man, much liked

by all his friends. He can find a bright side to any situation. His enterprise and

industry know no bounds; his job takes up his entire energies. He is devoted

to his family and lays everything he possesses at his wife's feet. . . "

Now for the reporter's version : "Mr. N. takes nothing very seriously and has

a gift for making himself liked, particularly as he carefully cultivates a hearty

and ingratiating manner. He is so completely a slave to his job that he has no

time for the considerations of any non-personal subject or for any mental

activity outside it. He spoils his wife unbelievably and is utterly under her

thumb. . ."

A real reporter would make it much more spicy, but I expect this will be

enough for you and your friend N. He reads this, and some more like it, in the

paper next morning, and his rage against you knows no bounds, however

cheerful and benevolent his natural disposition may be. The injury done to him

gives you untold pain, especially as you are really fond of him.

What's your next step, my friend? If you know, tell me quickly, so that I may

adopt your method with all speed.

Thanks to America

Mr. Mayor, Ladies, and Gentlemen,

The splendid reception which you have accorded to me to-day puts me to the

blush in so far as it is meant for me personally, but it gives me all the more

pleasure in so far as it is meant for me as a representative of pure science. For

this gathering is an outward and visible sign that the world is no longer prone

to regard material power and wealth as the highest goods. It is gratifying that

men should feel an urge to proclaim this in an official way.

In the wonderful two months which I have been privileged to spend in your

midst in this fortunate land, I have had many opportunities of observing what a

high value men of action and of practical life attach to the efforts of science; a

good few of them have placed a considerable proportion of their fortunes and

their energies at the service of scientific enterprises and thereby contributed to

the prosperity and prestige of this country.

I cannot let this occasion pass without referring in a spirit of thankfulness to

the fact that American patronage of science is not limited by national frontiers.


Scientific enterprises all over the civilized world rejoice in the liberal support

of American institutions and individuals--a fact which is, I am sure, a source of

pride and gratification to all of you.

These tokens of an international way of thinking and feeling are particularly

welcome; for the world is to-day more than ever in need of international

thinking and feeling by its leading nations and personalities, if it is to progress

towards a better and more worthy future. I may be permitted to express the

hope that this internationalism of the American nation, which proceeds from a

high sense of responsibility, will very soon extend itself to the sphere of

politics. For without the active co-operation of the great country of the United

States in the business of regulating international relations, all efforts directed

towards this important end are bound to remain more or less ineffectual.

I thank you most heartily for this magnificent reception and, in particular, the

men of learning in this country for the cordial and friendly welcome I have

received from them. I shall always look back on these two months with

pleasure and gratitude.

The University Course at Davos

Senalores boni viri, senatus autem bestia. So a friend of mine, a Swiss

professor, once wrote in his irritable way to a university faculty which had

annoyed him. Communities tend to be less guided than individuals by

conscience and a sense of responsibility. What a fruitful source of suffering to

mankind this fact is! It is the cause of wars and every kind of oppression,

which fill the earth with pain, sighs, and bitterness.

And yet nothing truly valuable can be achieved except by the unselfish

co-operation of many individuals. Hence the man of good will is never happier

than when some communal enterprise is afoot and is launched at the cost of

heavy sacrifices, with the single object of promoting life and culture.

Such pure joy was mine when I heard about the university courses at Davos.

A work of rescue is being carried out there, with intelligence and a wise

moderation, which is based on a grave need, though it may not be a need that

is immediately obvious to everyone. Many a young man goes to this valley

with his hopes fixed on the healing power of its sunny mountains and regains

his bodily health. But thus withdrawn for long periods from the will-hardening

discipline of normal work and a prey to morbid reflection on his physical

condition, he easily loses the power of mental effort and the sense of being

able to hold his own in the struggle for existence. He becomes a sort of

hot-house plant and, when his body is cured, often finds it difficult to get back


to normal life. Interruption of intellectual training in the formative period of

youth is very apt to leave a gap which can hardly be filled later.

Yet, as a general rule, intellectual work in moderation, so far from retarding

cure, indirectly helps it forward, just as moderate physical work does. It is in

this knowledge that the university courses are being instituted, with the object

not merely of preparing these young people for a profession but of stimulating

them to intellectual activity as such. They are to provide work, training, and

hygiene in the sphere of the mind.

Let us not forget that this enterprise is admirably calculated to establish such

relations between members of different nations as are favourable to the

growth of a common European feeling. The effects of the new institution in this

direction are likely to be all the more advantageous from the fact that the

circumstances of its birth rule out every sort of political purpose. The best

way to serve the cause of internationalism is by co-operating in some

life-giving work.

>From all these points of view I rejoice that the energy and intelligence of the

founders of the university courses at Davos have already attained such a

measure of success that the enterprise has outgrown the troubles of infancy.

May it prosper, enriching the inner lives of numbers of admirable human

beings and rescuing many from the poverty of sanatorium life!

Congratulations to a Critic

To see with one's own eyes, to feel and judge without succumbing to the

suggestive power of the fashion of the day, to be able to express what one

has seen and felt in a snappy sentence or even in a cunningly wrought

word--is that not glorious? Is it not a proper subject for congratulation?

Greeting to G. Bernard Shaw

There are few enough people with sufficient independence to see the

weaknesses and follies of their contemporaries and remain themselves

untouched by them. And these isolated few usually soon lose their zeal for

putting things to rights when they have come face to face with human

obduracy. Only to a tiny minority is it given to fascinate their generation by

subtle humour and grace and to hold the mirror up to it by the impersonal

agency of art. To-day I salute with sincere emotion the supreme master of this

method, who has delighted--and educated--us all.


Some Notes on my American Impressions

I must redeem my promise to say something about my impressions of this

country. That is not altogether easy for me. For it is not easy to take up the

attitude of an impartial observer when one is received with such kindness and

undeserved respect as I have been in America. First of all let me say

something on this head.

The cult of individual personalities is always, in my view, unjustified. To be

sure, nature distributes her gifts variously among her children. But there are

plenty of the well-endowed ones too, thank God, and I am firmly convinced

that most of them live quiet, unregarded lives. It strikes me as unfair, and even

in bad taste, to select a few of them fur boundless admiration, attributing

superhuman powers of mind and character to them. This has been my fate,

and the contrast between the popular estimate of my powers and

achievements and the reality is simply grotesque. The consciousness of this

extraordinary state of affairs would be unbearable but for one great consoling

thought: it is a welcome symptom in an age which is commonly denounced as

materialistic, that it makes heroes of men whose ambitions lie wholly in the

intellectual and moral sphere. This proves that knowledge and justice are

ranked above wealth and power by a large section of the human race. My

experience teaches me that this idealistic outlook is particularly prevalent in

America, which is usually decried as a particularly materialistic country. After

this digression I come to my proper theme, in the hope that no more weight

will be attached to my modest remarks than they deserve.

What first strikes the visitor with amazement is the superiority of this country

in matters of technics and organization. Objects of everyday use are more

solid than in Europe, houses infinitely more convenient in arrangement.

Everything is designed to save human labour. Labour is expensive, because

the country is sparsely inhabited in comparison with its natural resources. The

high price of labour was the stimulus which evoked the marvellous

development of technical devices and methods of work. The opposite

extreme is illustrated by over-populated China or India, where the low price

of labour has stood in the way of the development of machinery. Europe is

half-way between the two. Once the machine is sufficiently highly developed it

becomes cheaper in the end than the cheapest labour. Let the Fascists in

Europe, who desire on narrow-minded political grounds to see their own

particular countries more densely populated, take heed of this. The anxious

care with which the United States keep out foreign goods by means of

prohibitive tariffs certainly contrasts oddly with this notion.…But an


innocent visitor must not be expected to rack his brains too much, and, when

all is said and done, it is not absolutely certain that every question admits of a

rational answer.

The second thing that strikes a visitor is the joyous, positive attitude to life.

The smile on the faces of the people in photographs is symbolical of one of

the American's greatest assets. He is friendly, confident, optimistic,

and--without envy. The European finds intercourse with Americans easy and


Compared with the American, the European is more critical, more

self-conscious, less goodhearted and helpful, more isolated, more fastidious in

his amusements and his reading, generally more or less of a pessimist.

Great importance attaches to the material comforts of life, and peace,

freedom from care, security are all sacrificed to them. The American lives for

ambition, the future, more than the European. Life for him is always becoming,

never being. In this respect he is even further removed from the Russian and

the Asiatic than the European is. But there is another respect in which he

resembles the Asiatic more than the European does: he is lest of an

individualist than the European--that is, from the psychological, not the

economic, point of view.

More emphasis is laid on the "we" than the "I." As a natural corollary of this,

custom and convention are very powerful, and there is much more uniformity

both in outlook on life and in moral and æsthetic ideas among Americans than

among Europeans. This fact is chiefly responsible for America's economic

superiority over Europe. Co-operation and the division of labour are carried

through more easily and with less friction than in Europe, whether in the

factory or the university or in private good works. This social sense may be

partly due to the English tradition.

In apparent contradiction to this stands the fact that the activities of the State

are comparatively restricted as compared with Europe. The European is

surprised to find the telegraph, the telephone, the railways, and the schools

predominantly in private hands. The more social attitude of the individual,

which I mentioned just now, makes this possible here. Another consequence

of this attitude is that the extremely unequal distribution of property leads to

no intolerable hardships. The social conscience of the rich man is much more

highly developed than in Europe. He considers himself obliged as a matter of

course to place a large portion of his wealth, and often of his own energies

too, at the disposal of the community, and public opinion, that all-powerful

force, imperiously demands it of him. Hence the most important cultural


functions can be left to private enterprise, and the part played by the State in

this country is, comparatively, a very restricted one.

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by

the Prohibition laws. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the

government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be

enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this

country is closely connected with this.

There is also another way in which Prohibition, in my opinion, has led to the

enfeeblement of the State. The public-house is a place which gives people a

chance to exchange views and ideas on public affairs. As far as I can see,

people here have no chance of doing this, the result being that the Press,

which is mostly controlled by definite interests, has an excessive influence over

public opinion.

The over-estimation of money is still greater in this country than in Europe, but

appears to me to be on the decrease. It is at last beginning to be realized that

great wealth is not necessary for a happy and satisfactory life.

As regards artistic matters, I have been genuinely impressed by the good taste

displayed in the modern buildings and in articles of common use; on the other

hand, the visual arts and music have little place in the life of the nation as

compared with Europe.

I have a warm admiration for the achievements of American institutes of

scientific research. We are unjust in attempting to ascribe the increasing

superiority of American research-work exclusively to superior wealth; zeal,

patience, a spirit of comradeship, and a talent for co-operation play an

important part in its successes. One more observation to finish up with. The

United States is the most powerful technically advanced country in the world

to-day. Its influence on the shaping of international relations is absolutely

incalculable. But America is a large country and its people have so far not

shown much interest in great international problems, among which the

problem of disarmament occupies first place today. This must be changed, if

only in the essential interests of the Americans. The last war has shown that

there are no longer any barriers between the continents and that the destinies

of all countries are closely interwoven. The people of this country must realize

that they have a great responsibility in the sphere of international politics. The

part of passive spectator is unworthy of this country and is bound in the end

to lead to disaster all round.


Reply to the Women of America

An American Women's League felt called upon to protest against

Einstein's visit to their country. They received the following answer.

Never yet have I experienced from the fair sex such energetic rejection of all

advances; or, if I have, never from so many at once.

But are they not quite right, these watchful citizenesses? Why should one open

one's doors to a person who devours hard-boiled capitalists with as much

appetite and gusto as the Cretan Minotaur in days gone by devoured luscious

Greek maidens, and on top of that is low-down enough to reject every sort of

war, except the unavoidable war with one's own wife? Therefore give heed to

your clever and patriotic women-folk and remember that the Capitol of

mighty Rome was once saved by the cackling of its faithful geese.


Politics and Pacifism


The importance of securing international peace was recognized by the really

great men of former generations. But the technical advances of our times have

turned this ethical postulate into a matter of life and death for civilized mankind

to-day, and made the taking of an active part in the solution of the problem of

peace a moral duty which no conscientious man can shirk.

One has to realize that the powerful industrial groups concerned in the

manufacture of arms are doing their best in all countries to prevent the

peaceful settlement of international disputes, and that rulers can achieve this

great end only if they are sure of the vigorous support of the majority of their

peoples. In these days of democratic government the fate of the nations hangs

on themselves; each individual must always bear that in mind.

The Pacifist Problem

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very glad of this opportunity of saying a few words to you about the


problem of pacificism. The course of events in the last few years has once

more shown us how little we are justified in leaving the struggle against

armaments and against the war spirit to the Governments. On the other hand,

the formation of large organizations with a large membership can of itself bring

us very little nearer to our goal. In my opinion, the best method in this case is

the violent one of conscientious objection, with the aid of organizations for

giving moral and material support to the courageous conscientious objectors

in each country. In this way we may succeed in making the problem of

pacificism an acute one, a real struggle which attracts forceful natures. It is an

illegal struggle, but a struggle for people's real rights against their governments

in so far as the latter demand criminal acts of the citizen.

Many who think themselves good pacifists will jib at this out-and-out

pacifism, on patriotic grounds. Such people are not to be relied on in the hour

of crisis, as the World War amply proved.

I am most grateful to you for according me an opportunity to give you my

views in person.

Address to the Students' Disarmament Meeting

Preceding generations have presented us, in a highly developed science and

mechanical knowledge, with a most valuable gift which carries with it

possibilities of making our life free and beautiful such as no previous

generation has enjoyed. But this gift also brings with it dangers to our

existence as great as any that have ever threatened it.

The destiny of civilized humanity depends more than ever on the moral forces

it is capable of generating. Hence the task that confronts our age is certainly

no easier than the tasks our immediate predecessors successfully performed.

The foodstuffs and other goods which the world needs can be produced in far

fewer hours of work than formerly. But this has made the problem of the

division of labour and the distribution of the goods produced far more difficult.

We all feel that the free play of economic forces, the unregulated and

unrestrained pursuit of wealth and power by the individual, no longer leads

automatically to a tolerable solution of these problems. Production, labour,

and distribution need to be organized on a definite plan, in order to prevent

valuable productive energies from being thrown away and sections of the

population from becoming impoverished and relapsing into savagery. If

unrestricted sacro egoismo leads to disastrous consequences in economic

life, it is a still worse guide in international relations. The development of


mechanical methods of warfare is such that human life will become intolerable

if people do not before long discover a way of preventing war. The

importance of this object is only equalled by the inadequacy of the attempts

hitherto made to attain it.

People seek to minimize the danger by limitation of armaments and restrictive

rules for the conduct of war. But war is not like a parlour-game in which the

players loyally stick to the rules. Where life and death are at stake, rules and

obligations go by the board. Only the absolute repudiation of all war is of any

use here. The creation of an international court of arbitration is not enough.

There must be treaties guaranteeing that the decisions of this court shall be

made effective by all the nations acting in concert. Without such a guarantee

the nations will never have the courage to disarm seriously.

Suppose, for example, that the American, English, German, and French

Governments insisted on the Japanese Government's putting an immediate

stop to their warlike operations in China, under pain of a complete economic

boycott. Do you suppose that any Japanese Government would be found

ready to take the responsibility of plunging its country into such a perilous

adventure? Then why is it not done? Why must every individual and every

nation tremble for their existence? Because each seeks his own wretched

momentary advantage and refuses to subordinate it to the welfare and

prosperity of the community.

That is why I began by telling you that the fate of the human race was more

than ever dependent on its moral strength to-day. The way to a joyful and

happy state is through renunciation and self-limitation everywhere.

Where can the strength for such a process come from? Only from those who

have had the chance in their early years to fortify their minds and broaden

their outlook through study. Thus we of the older generation look to you and

hope that you will strive with all your might to achieve what was denied to us.

To Sigmund Freud

Dear Professor Freud,

It is admirable the way the longing to perceive the truth has

overcome every other desire in you. You have shown with

irresistible clearness how inseparably the combative and

destructive instincts are bound up with the amative and vital ones

in the human psyche. At the same time a deep yearning for that

great consummation, the internal and external liberation of


mankind from war, shines out from the ruthless logic of your

expositions. This has been the declared aim of all those who

have been honoured as moral and spiritual leaders beyond the

limits of their own time and country without exception, from

Jesus Christ to Goethe and Kant. Is it not significant that such

men have been universally accepted as leaders, in spite of the

fact that their efforts to mould the course of human affairs were

attended with but small success?

I am convinced that the great men--those whose achievements,

even though in a restricted sphere, set them above their

fellows--are animated to an overwhelming extent by the same

ideals. But they have little influence on the course of political

events. It almost looks as if this domain, on which the fate of

nations depends, had inevitably to be given over to violence and


Political leaders or governments owe their position partly to

force and partly to popular election. They cannot be regarded as

representative of the best elements, morally and intellectually, in

their respective nations. The intellectual èlite have no direct

influence on the history of nations in these days; their lack of

cohesion prevents them from taking a direct part in the solution

of contemporary problems. Don't you think that a change might

be brought about in this respect by a free association of people

whose work and achievements up to date constitute a guarantee

of their ability and purity of aim? This international association,

whose members would need to keep in touch with each other by

a constant interchange of opinions, might, by defining its attitude

in the Press--responsibility always resting with the signatories on

any given occasion--acquire a considerable and salutary moral

influence over the settlement of political questions. Such an

association would, of course, be a prey to all the ills which so

often lead to degeneration in learned societies, dangers which

are inseparably bound up with the imperfection of human nature.

But should not an effort in this direction be risked in spite of this?

I look upon the attempt as nothing less than an imperative duty.

If an intellectual association of standing, such as I have

described, could be formed, it would no doubt have to try to

mobilize the religious organizations for the fight against war. It

would give countenance to many whose good intentions are

paralysed to-day by a melancholy resignation. Finally, I believe


that an association formed of persons such as I have described,

each highly esteemed in his own line, would be just the thing to

give valuable moral support to those elements in the League of

Nations which are really working for the great object for which

that institution exists.

I had rather put these proposals to you than to anyone else in the

world, because you are least of all men the dupe of your desires

and because your critical judgment is supported by a most

earnest sense of responsibility.

Compulsory Service

From a letter

Instead of permission being given to Germany to introduce compulsory

service it ought to be taken away from everybody else: in future none but

mercenary armies should be permitted, the size and equipment of which

should be discussed at Geneva. This would be better for France than to have

to permit compulsory service in Germany. The fatal psychological effect of the

military education of the people and the violation of the individual's rights

which it involves would thus be avoided.

Moreover, it would be much easier for two countries which had agreed to

compulsory arbitration for the settlement of all disputes arising out of their

mutual relations to combine their military establishments of mercenaries into a

single organization with a mixed staff. This would mean a financial relief and

increased security for both of them. Such a process of amalgamation might

extend to larger and larger combinations, and finally lead to an "international

police," which would be bound gradually to degenerate as international

security increased.

Will you discuss this proposal with our friends by way of setting the ball

rolling? Of course I do not in the least insist on this particular proposal. But I

do think it essential that we should come forward with a positive programme;

a merely negative policy is unlikely to produce any practical results.

Germany and France

Mutual trust and co-operation between France and Germany can come about

only if the French demand for security against military attack is satisfied. But

should France frame demands in accordance with this, such a step would


certainly be taken very ill in Germany.

A procedure something like the following seems, however, to be possible. Let

the German Government of its own free will propose to the French that they

should jointly make representations to the League of Nations that it should

suggest to all member States to bind themselves to the following:--

(1) To submit to every decision of the international court of arbitration.

(2) To proceed with all its economic and military force, in concert with the

other members of the League, against any State which breaks the peace or

resists an international decision made in the interests of world peace.


Systematic disarmament within a short period. This is possible only in

combination with the guarantee of all for the security of each separate nation,

based on a permanent court of arbitration independent of governments.

Unconditional obligation of all countries not merely to accept the decisions of

the court of arbitration but also to give effect to them.

Separate courts of arbitration for Europe with Africa, America, and Asia

(Australia to be apportioned to one of these). A joint court of arbitration for

questions involving issues that cannot be settled within the limits of any one of

these three regions.

The International of Science

At a sitting of the Academy during the War, at the time when national and

political infatuation had reached its height, Emil Fischer spoke the following

emphatic words: "It's no use, Gentlemen, science is and remains international."

The really great scientists have always known this and felt it passionately, even

though in times of political confusion they may have remained isolated among

their colleagues of inferior calibre. In every camp during the War this mass of

voters betrayed their sacred trust. The international society of the academies

was broken up. Congresses were and still are held from which colleagues

from ex-enemy countries are excluded. Political considerations, advanced

with much solemnity, prevent the triumph of purely objective ways of thinking

without which our great aims must necessarily be frustrated.

What can right-minded people, people who are proof against the emotional

temptations of the moment, do to repair the damage? With the majority of


intellectual workers still so excited, truly international congresses on the grand

scale cannot yet be held. The psychological obstacles to the restoration of the

international associations of scientific workers are still too formidable to be

overcome by the minority whose ideas and feelings are of a more

comprehensive kind. These last can aid in the great work of restoring the

international societies to health by keeping in close touch with like-minded

people all over the world and resolutely championing the international cause in

their own spheres. Success on a large scale will take time, but it will

undoubtedly come. I cannot let this opportunity pass without paying a tribute

to the way in which the desire to preserve the confraternity of the intellect has

remained alive through all these difficult years in the breasts of a large number

of our English colleagues especially.

The disposition of the individual is everywhere better than the official

pronouncements. Right-minded people should bear this in mind and not allow

themselves to be misled and get angry: senatores boni viri, senatus autem


If I am full of confident hope concerning the progress of international

organization in general, that feeling is based not so much on my confidence in

the intelligence and high-mindedness of my fellows, but rather on the

irresistible pressure of economic developments. And since these depend

largely on the work even of reactionary scientists, they too will help to create

the international organization against their wills.

The Institute for Intellectual Co-operation

During this year the leading politicians of Europe have for the first time drawn

the logical conclusion from the truth that our portion of the globe can only

regain its prosperity if the underground struggle between the traditional

political units ceases. The political organization of Europe must be

strengthened, and a gradual attempt made to abolish tariff barriers. This great

end cannot be achieved by treaties alone. People's minds must, above all, be

prepared for it. We must try gradually to awaken in them a sense of solidarity

which does not, as hitherto, stop at frontiers. It is with this in mind that the

League of Nations has created the Commission de coopération

intellectuelle. This Commission is to be an absolutely international and

entirely nonpolitical authority, whose business it is to put the intellectuals of all

the nations, who were isolated by the war, into touch with each other. It is a

difficult task; for it has, alas, to be admitted that--at least in the countries with

which I am most closely acquainted--the artists and men of learning are

governed by narrowly nationalist feelings to a far greater extent than the men

of affairs.


Hitherto this Commission has met twice a year. To make its efforts more

effective, the French Government has decided to create and maintain a

permanent Institute for intellectual co-operation, which is just now to be

opened. It is a generous act on the part of the French nation and deserves the

thanks of all.

It is an easy and grateful task to rejoice and praise and say nothing about the

things one regrets or disapproves of. But honesty alone can help our work

forward, so I will not shrink from combining criticism with this greeting to the

new-born child.

I have daily occasion for observing that the greatest obstacle which the work

of our Commission has to encounter is the lack of confidence in its political

impartiality. Everything must be done to strengthen that confidence and

everything avoided that might harm it.

When, therefore, the French Government sets up and maintains an Institute

out of public funds in Paris as a permanent organ of the Commission, with a

Frenchman as its Director, the outside observer can hardly avoid the

impression that French influence predominates in the Commission. This

impression is further strengthened by the fact that so far a Frenchman has also

been chairman of the Commission itself. Although the individuals in question

are men of the highest reputation, liked and respected everywhere,

nevertheless the impression remains.

Dixi et salvavi animam naeam. I hope with all my heart that the new

Institute, by constant interaction with the Commission, will succeed in

promoting their common ends and winning the confidence and recognition of

intellectual workers all over the world.

A Farewell

A letter to the German Secretary of the League of Nations

Dear Herr Dufour-Feronce,

Your kind letter must not go unanswered, otherwise you may get

a mistaken notion of my attitude. The grounds for my resolve to

go to Geneva no more are as follows: Experience has,

unhappily, taught me that the Commission, taken as a whole,

stands for no serious determination to make real progress with


the task of improving international relations. It looks to me far

more like an embodiment of the principle ut aliquid fieri

videatur. The Commission seems to me even worse in this

respect than the League taken as a whole.

It is precisely because I desire to work with all my might for the

establishment of an international arbitrating and regulative

authority superior to the State, and because I have this object

so very much at heart, that I feel compelled to leave the


The Commission has given its blessing to the oppression of the

cultural minorities in all countries by causing a National

Commission to be set up in each of them, which is to form the

only channel of communication between the intellectuals of a

country and the Commission. It has thereby deliberately

abandoned its function of giving moral support to the national

minorities in their struggle against cultural oppression.

Further, the attitude of the Commission in the matter of

combating the chauvinistic and militaristic tendencies of

education in the various countries has been so lukewarm that no

serious efforts in this fundamentally important sphere can be

hoped for from it.

The Commission has invariably failed to give moral support to

those individuals and associations who have thrown themselves

without reserve into the business of working for an international

order and against the military system.

The Commission has never made any attempt to resist the

appointment of members whom it knew to stand for tendencies

the very reverse of those it is bound in duty to foster.

I will not worry you with any further arguments, since you will

understand my resolve yell enough from these few hints. It is not

my business to draw up an indictment, but merely to explain my

position. If I nourished any hope whatever I should act

differently--of that you may be sure.

The Question of Disarmament

The greatest obstacle to the success of the disarmament plan was the fact that


people in general left out of account the chief difficulties of the problem. Most

objects are gained by gradual steps: for example, the supersession of absolute

monarchy by democracy. Here, however, we are concerned with an

objective which cannot be reached step by step.

As long as the possibility of war remains, nations will insist on being as

perfectly prepared militarily as they can, in order to emerge triumphant from

the next war. It will also be impossible to avoid educating the youth in warlike

traditions and cultivating narrow national vanity joined to the glorification of

the warlike spirit, as long as people have to be prepared for occasions when

such a spirit will be needed in the citizens for the purpose of war. To arm is to

give one's voice and make one's preparations not for peace but for war.

Therefore people will not disarm step by step; they will disarm at one blow or

not at all.

The accomplishment of such a far-reaching change in the life of nations

presupposes a mighty moral effort, a deliberate departure from deeply

ingrained tradition. Anyone who is not prepared to make the fate of his

country in case of a dispute depend entirely on the decisions of an

international court of arbitration, and to enter into a treaty to this effect without

reserve, is not really resolved to avoid war. It is a case of all or nothing.

It is undeniable that previous attempts to ensure peace have failed through

aiming at inadequate compromises.

Disarmament and security are only to be had in combination. The one

guarantee of security is an undertaking by all nations to give effect to the

decisions of the international authority.

We stand, therefore, at the parting of the ways. Whether we find the way of

peace or continue along the old road of brute force, so unworthy of our

civilization, depends on ourselves. On the one side the freedom of the

individual and the security of society beckon to us, on the other slavery for the

individual and the annihilation of our civilization threaten us. Our fate will be

according to our deserts.

The Disarmament Conference of 1932


May I begin with an article of political faith? It runs as follows: The State is

made for man, not man for the State. And in this respect science resembles

the State. These are old sayings, coined by men for whom human personality


was the highest human good. I should shrink from repeating them, were it not

that they are for ever threatening to fall into oblivion, particularly in these days

of organization and mechanization. I regard it as the chief duty of the State to

protect the individual and give him the opportunity to develop into a creative


That is to say, the State should be our servant and not we its slaves. The State

transgresses this commandment when it compels us by force to engage in

military and war service, the more so since the object and the effect of this

slavish service is to kill people belonging to other countries or interfere with

their freedom of development. We are only to make such sacrifices to the

State as will promote the free development of individual human beings. To any

American all this may be a platitude, but not to any European. Hence we may

hope that the fight against war will find strong support among Americans.

And now for the Disarmament Conference. Ought one to laugh, weep, or

hope when one thinks of it? Imagine a city inhabited by fiery-tempered,

dishonest, and quarrelsome citizens. The constant danger to life there is felt as

a serious handicap which makes all healthy development impossible. The

magistrate desires to remedy this abominable state of affairs, although all his

counsellors and the rest of the citizens insist on continuing to carry a dagger in

their girdles. After years of preparation the magistrate determines to

compromise and raises the question, how long and how sharp the dagger is

allowed to be which anyone may carry in his belt when he goes out. As long

as the cunning citizens do not suppress knifing by legislation, the courts, and

the police, things go on in the old way, of course. A definition of the length

and sharpness of the permitted dagger will help only the strongest and most

turbulent and leave the weaker at their mercy. You will all understand the

meaning of this parable. It is true that we have a League of Nations and a

Court of Arbitration. But the League is not much more than a meeting-hall,

and the Court has no means of enforcing its decisions. These institutions

provide no security for any country in case of an attack on it. If you bear this

in mind, you will judge the attitude of the French, their refusal to disarm

without security, less harshly than it is usually judged at present.

Unless we can agree to limit the sovereignty of the individual State by all

binding ourselves to take joint action against any country which openly or

secretly resists a judgment of the Court of Arbitration, we shall never get out

of a state of universal anarchy and terror. No sleight of hand can reconcile the

unlimited sovereignty of the individual country with security against attack.

Will it need new disasters to induce the countries to undertake to enforce

every decision of the recognized international court? The progress of events

so far scarcely justifies us in hoping for anything better in the near future. But


everyone who cares for civilization and justice must exert all his strength to

convince his fellows of the necessity for laying all countries under an

international obligation of this kind.

It will be urged against this notion, not without a certain justification, that it

over-estimates the efficacy of machinery, and neglects the psychological, or

rather the moral, factor. Spiritual disarmament, people insist, must precede

material disarmament. They say further, and truly, that the greatest obstacle to

international order is that monstrously exaggerated spirit of nationalism which

also goes by the fair-sounding but misused name of patriotism. During the last

century and a half this idol has acquired an uncanny and exceedingly

pernicious power everywhere.

To estimate this objection at its proper worth, one must realize that a

reciprocal relation exists between external machinery and internal states of

mind. Not only does the machinery depend on traditional modes of feeling

and owe its origin and its survival to them, but the existing machinery in its turn

exercises a powerful influence on national modes of feeling.

The present deplorably high development of nationalism everywhere is, in my

opinion, intimately connected with the institution of compulsory military service

or, to call it by its less offensive name, national armies. A country which

demands military service of its inhabitants is compelled to cultivate a

nationalistic spirit in them, which provides the psychological foundation of

military efficiency. Along with this religion it has to hold up its instrument, brute

force, to the admiration of the youth in its schools.

The introduction of compulsory service is therefore, to my mind, the prime

cause of the moral collapse of the white race, which seriously threatens not

merely the survival of our civilization but our very existence. This curse, along

with great social blessings, started with the French Revolution, and before

long dragged all the other nations in its train.

Therefore those who desire to encourage the growth of an international spirit

and to combat chauvinism must take their stand against compulsory service. Is

the severe persecution to which conscientious objectors to military service are

subjected to-day a whit less disgraceful to the community than those to which

the martyrs of religion were exposed in former centuries? Can you, as the

Kellogg Pact does, condemn war and at the same time leave the individual to

the tender mercies of the war machine in each country?

If, in view of the Disarmament Conference, we are not to restrict ourselves to

the technical problems of organization involved but also to tackle the


psychological question more directly from educational motives, we must try

on international lines to invent some legal way by which the individual can

refuse to serve in the army. Such a regulation would undoubtedly produce a

great moral effect.

This is my position in a nutshell: Mere agreements to limit armaments furnish

no sort of security. Compulsory arbitration must be supported by an executive

force, guaranteed by all the participating countries, which is ready to proceed

against the disturber of the peace with economic and military sanctions.

Compulsory service, as the bulwark of unhealthy nationalism, must be

combated; most important of all, conscientious objectors must be protected

on an international basis.

Finally, I would draw your attention to a book, War again To-morrow, by

Ludwig Bauer, which discusses the issues here involved in an acute and

unprejudiced manner and with great psychological insight.


The benefits that the inventive genius of man has conferred on us in the last

hundred years could make life happy and care-free if organization had been

able to keep pace with technical progress. As it is, these hard-won

achievements in the hands of our generation are like a razor in the hands of a

child of three. The possession of marvellous means of production has brought

care and hunger instead of freedom.

The results of technical progress are most baleful where they furnish means for

the destruction of human life and the hard-won fruits of toil, as we of the older

generation experienced to our horror in the Great War. More dreadful even

than the destruction, in my opinion, is the humiliating slavery into which war

plunges the individual. Is it not a terrible thing to be forced by the community

to do things which every individual regards as abominable crimes? Only a few

had the moral greatness to resist; them I regard as the real heroes of the Great


There is one ray of hope. I believe that the responsible leaders of the nations

do, in the main, honestly desire to abolish war. The resistance to this essential

step forward comes from those unfortunate national traditions which are

handed on like a hereditary disease from generation to generation through the

workings of the educational system. The principal vehicle of this tradition is

military training and its glorification, and, equally, that portion of the Press

which is controlled by heavy industry and the soldiers. Without disarmament


there can be no lasting peace. Conversely, the continuation of military

preparations on the present scale will inevitably lead to new catastrophes.

That is why the Disarmament Conference of 1932 will decide the fate of this

generation and the next. When one thinks how pitiable, taken as a whole,

have been the results of former conferences, it becomes clear that it is the

duty of all intelligent and responsible people to exert their full powers to

remind public opinion again and again of the importance of the 1932

Conference. Only if the statesmen have behind them the will to peace of a

decisive majority in their own countries can they attain their great end, and for

the formation of this public opinion each one of us is responsible in every

word and deed.

The doom of the Conference would be sealed if the delegates came to it with

ready-made instructions, the carrying out of which would soon become a

matter of prestige. This seems to be generally realized. For meetings between

the statesmen of two nations at a time, which have become very frequent of

late, have been used to prepare the ground for the Conference by

conversations about the disarmament problem. This seems to me a very

happy device, for two men or groups of men can usually discuss things

together most reasonably, honestly, and dispassionately when there is no third

person present in front of whom they think they must be careful what they say.

Only if exhaustive preparations of this kind are made for the Conference, if

surprises are thereby ruled out, and an atmosphere of confidence is created

by genuine good will, can we hope for a happy issue.

In these great matters success is not a matter of cleverness, still less of

cunning, but of honesty and confidence. The moral element cannot be

displaced by reason, thank heaven ! It is not the individual spectator's duty

merely to wait and criticize. He must serve the cause by all means in his

power. The fate of the world will be such as the world deserves.

America and the Disarmasnent Conference

The Americans of to-day are filled with the cares arising out of economic

conditions in their own country. The efforts of their responsible leaders are

directed primarily to remedying the serious unemployment at home. The sense

of being involved in the destiny of the rest of the world, and in particular of the

mother country of Europe, is even less strong than in normal times.

But the free play of economic forces will not by itself automatically overcome

these difficulties. Regulative measures by the community are needed to bring

about a sound distribution of labour and consumption-goods among mankind;


without them even the people of the richest country suffocate. The fact is that

since the amount of work needed to supply everybody's needs has been

reduced through the improvement of technical methods, the free play of

economic forces no longer produces a state of affairs in which all the available

labour can find employment. Deliberate regulation and organization are

becoming necessary to make the results of technical progress beneficial to all.

If the economic situation cannot be cleared up without systematic regulation,

how much more necessary is such regulation for dealing with the problems of

international politics! Few people still cling to the notion that acts of violence

in the shape of wars are either advantageous or worthy of humanity as a

method of solving international problems. But they are not logical enough to

make vigorous efforts on behalf of the measures which might prevent war, that

savage and unworthy relic of the age of barbarism. It requires some power of

reflection to see the issue clearly and a certain courage to serve this great

cause resolutely and effectively.

Anybody who really wants to abolish war must resolutely declare himself in

favour of his own country's resigning a portion of its sovereignty in favour of

international institutions: he must be ready to make his own country amenable,

in case of a dispute, to the award of an international court. He must in the

most uncompromising fashion support disarmament all round, which is actually

envisaged in the unfortunate Treaty of Versailles; unless military and

aggressively patriotic education is abolished, we can hope for no progress.

No event of the last few years reflects such disgrace on the leading civilized

countries of the world as the failure of all disarmament conferences so far; for

this failure is due not only to the intrigues of ambitious and unscrupulous

politicians, but also to the indifference and slackness of the public in all

countries. Unless this is changed we shall destroy all the really valuable

achievements of our predecessors.

I believe that the American nation is only imperfectly aware of the

responsibility which rests with it in this matter. People in America no doubt

think as follows: "Let Europe go to the dogs, if it is destroyed by the

quarrelsomeness and wickedness of its inhabitants. The good seed of our

Wilson has produced a mighty poor crop in the stony ground of Europe. We

are strong and safe and in no hurry to mix ourselves up in other people's


Such an attitude is at once base and shortsighted. America is partly to blame

for the difficulties of Europe. By ruthlessly pressing her claims she is hastening

the economic and therewith the moral collapse of Europe; she has helped to


Balkanize Europe, and therefore shares the responsibility for the breakdown

of political morality and the growth of that spirit of revenge which feeds on

despair. This spirit will not stop short of the gates of America--I had almost

said, has not stopped short. Look around, and look forward.

The truth can be briefly stated: The Disarmament Conference comes as a final

chance, to you no less than to us, of preserving the best that civilized humanity

has produced. And it is on you, as the strongest and comparatively soundest

among us, that the eyes and hopes of all are focused.

Active Pacifism

I consider myself lucky in witnessing the great peace demonstration organized

by the Flemish people. To all concerned in it I feel impelled to call out in the

name of men of good will with a care for the future: "In this hour of opened

eyes and awakening conscience we feel ourselves united with you by the

deepest ties."

We must not conceal from ourselves that an improvement in the present

depressing situation is impossible without a severe struggle; for the handful of

those who are really determined to do something is minute in comparison with

the mass of the lukewarm and the misguided. And those who have an interest

in keeping the machinery of war going are a very powerful body; they will

stop at nothing to make public opinion subservient to their murderous ends.

It looks as if the ruling statesmen of to-day were really trying to secure

permanent peace. But the ceaseless piling-up of armaments shows only too

clearly that they are unequal to coping with the hostile forces which are

preparing for war. In my opinion, deliverance can only come from the peoples

themselves. If they wish to avoid the degrading slavery of war-service, they

must declare with no uncertain voice for complete disarmament. As long as

armies exist, any serious quarrel will lead to war. A pacifism which does not

actually try to prevent the nations from arming is and must remain impotent.

May the conscience and the common sense of the peoples be awakened, so

that we may reach a new stage in the life of nations, where people will look

back on war as an incomprehensible aberration of their forefathers!

Letter to a Friend of Peace

It has come to my ears that in your greatheartedness you are quietly

accomplishing a splendid work, impelled by solicitude for humanity and its

fate. Small is the number of them that see with their own eyes and feel with


their own hearts. But it is their strength that will decide whether the human

race must relapse into that hopeless condition which a blind multitude appears

to-day to regard as the ideal.

O that the nations might see, before it is too late, how much of their

self-determination they have got to sacrifice in order to avoid the struggle of

all against all! The power of conscience and the international spirit has proved

itself inadequate. At present it is being so weak as to tolerate parleying with

the worst enemies of civilization. There is a kind of conciliation which is a

crime against humanity, and it passes for political wisdom.

We cannot despair of humanity, since we are ourselves human beings. And it

is a comfort that there still exist individuals like yourself, whom one knows to

be alive and undismayed.

Another ditto

Dear friend and spiritual brother,

To be quite frank, a declaration like the one before me in a

country which submits to conscription in peace-time seems to

me valueless. What you must fight for is liberation from universal

military service. Verily the French nation has had to pay heavily

for the victory of 1918; for that victory has been largely

responsible for holding it down in the most degrading of all forms

of slavery. Let your efforts in this struggle be unceasing. You

have a mighty ally in the German reactionaries and militarists. If

France clings to universal military service, it will be impossible in

the long run to prevent its introduction into Germany. For the

demand of the Germans for equal rights will succeed in the end;

and then there will be two German military slaves to every

French one, which would certainly not be in the interests of


Only if we succeed in abolishing compulsory service altogether

will it be possible to educate the youth in the spirit of

reconciliation, joy in life, and love towards all living creatures.

I believe that a refusal on conscientious grounds to serve in the

army when called up, if carried out by 50,000 men at the same

moment, would be irresistible. The individual can accomplish

little here, nor can one wish to see the best among us devoted to

destruction through the machinery behind which stand the three


great powers of stupidity, fear, and greed.

A third ditto

Dear Sir,

The point with which you deal in your letter is one of prime

importance. The armament industry is, as you say, one of the

greatest dangers that beset mankind. It is the hidden evil power

behind the nationalism which is rampant everywhere.…

Possibly something might be gained by nationalization. But it is

extremely hard to determine exactly what industries should be

included. Should the aircraft industry? And how much of the

metal industry and the chemical industry?

As regards the munitions industry and the export of war material,

the League of Nations has busied itself for years with efforts to

get this horrible traffic controlled--with what little success, we all

know. Last year I asked a well-known American diplomat why

Japan was not forced by a commercial boycott to desist from

her policy of force. "Our commercial interests are too strong,"

was the answer. How can one help people who rest satisfied

with a statement like that?

You believe that a word from me would suffice to get something

done in this sphere? What an illusion! People flatter me as long

as I do not get in their way. But if I direct my efforts towards

objects which do not suit them, they immediately turn to abuse

and calumny in defence of their interests. And the onlookers

mostly keep out of the light, the cowards! Have you ever tested

the civil courage of your countrymen? The silently accepted

motto is "Leave it alone and don't speak of it." You may be sure

that I shall do everything in my power along the lines you

indicate, but nothing can be achieved as directly as you think.

Women and War

In my opinion, the patriotic women ought to be sent to the front in the next

war instead of the men. It would at least be a novelty in this dreary sphere of

infinite confusion, and besides--why should not such heroic feelings on the

part of the fair sex find a more picturesque outlet than in attacks on a

defenceless civilian?


Thoughts on the World Economic Crisis

If there is one thing that can give a layman in the sphere of economics the

courage to express an opinion on the nature of the alarming economic

difficulties of the present day, it is the hopeless confusion of opinions among

the experts. What I have to say is nothing new and does not pretend to be

anything more than the opinion of an independent and honest man who,

unburdened by class or national prejudices, desires nothing but the good of

humanity and the most harmonious possible scheme of human existence. If in

what follows I write as if I were clear about certain things and sure of the truth

of what I am saying, this is done merely for the sake of an easier mode of

expression; it does not proceed from unwarranted self-confidence or a belief

in the infallibility of my somewhat simple intellectual conception of problems

which are in reality uncommonly complex.

As I see it, this crisis differs in character from past crises in that it is based on

an entirely new set of conditions, due to rapid progress in methods of

production. Only a fraction of the available human labour in the world is

needed for the production of the total amount of consumption-goods

necessary to life. Under a completely free economic system this fact is bound

to lead to unemployment. For reasons which I do not propose to analyse

here, the majority of people are compelled to work for the minimum wage on

which life can be supported. If two factories produce the same sort of goods,

other things being equal, that one will be able to produce them more cheaply

which employs less workmen--i.e., makes the individual worker work as long

and as hard as human nature permits. From this it follows inevitably that, with

methods of production what they are to-day, only a portion of the available

labour can be used. While unreasonable demands are made on this portion,

the remainder is automatically excluded from the process of production. This

leads to a fall in sales and profits. Businesses go smash, which further

increases unemployment and diminishes confidence in industrial concerns and

therewith public participation in these mediating banks; finally the banks

become insolvent through the sudden withdrawal of deposits and the wheels

of industry therewith come to a complete standstill.

The crisis has also been attributed to other causes which we will now


(1) Over-production. We have to distinguish between two things here--real

over-production and apparent over-production. By real overproduction I

mean a production so great that it exceeds the demand. This m4y perhaps

apply to motor-cars and wheat in the United States at the present moment,


although even that is doubtful. By "over-production" people usually mean a

condition of things in which more of one particular article is produced than

can, in existing circumstances, be sold, in spite of a shortage of

consumption-goods among consumers. This condition of things I call apparent

over-production. In this case it is not the demand that is lacking but the

consumers' purchasing-power. Such apparent over-production is only another

word for a crisis, and therefore cannot serve as an explanation of the latter;

hence people who try to make over-production responsible for the crisis are

merely juggling with words.

(2) Reparations. The obligation to pay reparations lies heavy on the debtor

nations and their industries, compels them to go in for dumping, and so harms

the creditor nations too This is beyond dispute. But the appearance of the

crisis in the United States, in spite of the high tariff-wall protecting them,

proves that this cannot be the principal cause of the world crisis. The shortage

of gold in the debtor countries due to reparations can at most serve as an

argument for putting an end to these payments; it cannot be dragged in as an

explanation of the world crisis.

(3) Erection of near tariff-walls. Increase in the unproductive burden of

armaments. Political in security owing to latent danger of war. All these things

add considerably to the troubles of Europe, but do not materially affect

America. The appearance of the crisis in America shows that they cannot be

its principal causes.

(4) The dropping-out of the two Powers, China and Russia. This blow to

world trade also does not touch America very nearly, and therefore cannot be

a principal cause of the crisis.

(5) The economic rise of the lower classes since the War. This, supposing

it to be a reality, could only produce a scarcity of goods, not an excessive


I will not weary the reader by enumerating further contentions which do not

seem to me to get to the heart of the matter. Of one thing I feel certain: this

same technical progress which, in itself, might relieve mankind of a great part

of the labour necessary to its subsistence, is the main cause of our present

troubles. Hence there are those who would in all seriousness forbid the

introduction of technical improvements. This is obviously absurd. But how can

we find a more rational way out of our dilemma?

If we could somehow manage to prevent the purchasing-power of the

masses, measured in terms of goods, from sinking below a certain minimum,


stoppages in the industrial cycle such as we are experiencing to-day would be

rendered impossible.

The logically simplest but also most daring method of achieving this is a

completely planned economy, in which consumption-goods are produced and

distributed by the community. That, in essentials, is what is being attempted in

Russia to-day. Much will depend on what results this mighty experiment

produces. To hazard a prophecy here would be presumption. Can goods be

produced as economically under such a system as under one which leaves

more freedom to individual enterprise? Can this system maintain itself at all

without the terror that has so far accompanied it, which none of us

"westerners" would care to let himself in for? Does not such a rigid,

centralized system tend towards protection and hostility to advantageous

innovations? We must take care, however, not to allow these suspicions to

become prejudices which prevent us from forming an objective judgment.

My personal opinion is that those methods are preferable which respect

existing traditions and habits so far as that is in any way compatible with the

end in view. Nor do I believe that a sudden transference of the control of

industry to the hands of the public would be beneficial from the point of view

of production; private enterprise should be left its sphere of activity, in so far

as it has not already been eliminated by industry itself in the form of


There are, however, two respects in which this economic freedom ought to be

limited. In each branch of industry the number of working hours per week

ought so to be reduced by law that unemployment is systematically abolished.

At the same time minimum wages must be fixed in such a way that the

purchasing power of the workers keeps pace with production.

Further, in those industries which have become monopolistic in character

through organization on the part of the producers, prices must be controlled

by the State in order to keep the creation of new capital within reasonable

bounds and prevent the artificial strangling of production and consumption.

In this way it might perhaps be possible to establish a proper balance between

production and consumption without too great a limitation of free enterprise,

and at the same time to stop the intolerable tyranny of the owners of the

means of production (land, machinery) over the wage-earners, in the widest

sense of the term.

Culture and Prosperity


If one would estimate the damage done by the great political catastrophe to

the development of human civilization, one must remember that culture in its

higher forms is a delicate plant which depends on a complicated set of

conditions and is wont to flourish only in a few places at any given time. For it

to blossom there is needed, first of all, a certain degree of prosperity, which

enables a fraction of the population to work at things not directly necessary to

the maintenance of life; secondly, a moral tradition of respect for cultural

values and achievements, in virtue of which this class is provided with the

means of living by the other classes, those who provide the immediate

necessities of life.

During the past century Germany has been one of the countries in which both

conditions were fulfilled. The prosperity was, taken as a whole, modest but

sufficient; the tradition of respect for culture vigorous. On this basis the

German nation has brought forth fruits of culture which form an integral part of

the development of the modern world. The tradition, in the main, still stands;

the prosperity is gone. The industries of the country have been cut off almost

completely from the sources of raw materials on which the existence of the

industrial part of the population was based. The surplus necessary to support

the intellectual worker has suddenly ceased to exist. With it the tradition which

depends on it will inevitably collapse also, and a fruitful nursery of culture turn

to wilderness.

The human race, in so far as it sets a value on culture, has an interest in

preventing such impoverishment. It will give what help it can in the immediate

crisis and reawaken that higher community of feeling, now thrust into the

background by national egotism, for which human values have a validity

independent of politics and frontiers. It will then procure for every nation

conditions of work under which it can exist and under which it can bring forth

fruits of culture.

Production and Purchasing Power

I do not believe that the remedy for our present difficulties lies in a knowledge

of productive capacity and consumption, because this knowledge is likely, in

the main, to come too late. Moreover the trouble in Germany seems to me to

be not hypertrophy of the machinery of production but deficient purchasing

power in a large section of the population, which has been cast out of the

productive process through rationalization.

The gold standard has, in my opinion, the serious disadvantage that a shortage

in the supply of gold automatically leads to a contraction of credit and also of


the amount of currency in circulation, to which contraction prices and wages

cannot adjust themselves sufficiently quickly. The natural remedies for our

troubles are, in my opinion, as follows:--

(1) A statutory reduction of working hours, graduated for each department of

industry, in order to get rid of unemployment, combined with the fixing of

minimum wages for the purpose of adjusting the purchasing-power of the

masses to the amount of goods available.

(2) Control of the amount of money in circulation and of the volume of credit

in such a way as to keep the price-level steady, all special protection being


(3) Statutory limitation of prices for such articles as have been practically

withdrawn from free competition by monopolies or the formation of cartels.

Production and Work

An answer to Cederström

Dear Herr Cederström,

Thank you for sending me your proposals, which interest me

very much. Having myself given so much thought to this subject I

feel that it is right that I should give you my perfectly frank

opinion on them.

The fundamental trouble seems to me to be the almost unlimited

freedom of the labour market combined with extraordinary

progress in the methods of production. To satisfy the needs of

the world to-day nothing like all the available labour is wanted.

The result is unemployment and excessive competition among

the workers, both of which reduce purchasing power and put

the whole economic system intolerably out of gear.

I know Liberal economists maintain that every economy in

labour is counterbalanced by an increase in demand. But, to

begin with, I don't believe it, and even if it were true, the

above-mentioned factors would always operate to force the

standard of living of a large portion of the human race doom to

an unnaturally low level.

I also share your conviction that steps absolutely must be taken


to make it possible and necessary for the younger people to take

part in the productive process. Further, that the older people

ought to be excluded from certain sorts of work (which I call

"unqualified" work), receiving instead a certain income, as having

by that time done enough work of a kind accepted by society as


I too am in favour of abolishing large cities, but not of settling

people of a particular type--e.g., old people--in particular

towns. Frankly, the idea strikes me as horrible. I am also of

opinion that fluctuations in the value of money must be avoided,

by substituting for the gold standard a standard based on certain

classes of goods selected according to the conditions of

consumption--as Keynes, if I am not mistaken, long ago

proposed. With the introduction of this system one might

consent to a certain amount of "inflation," as compared with the

present monetary situation, if one could believe that the State

would really make a rational use of the windfall thus accruing to


The weaknesses of your plan lie, so it seems to me, in the sphere

of psychology, or rather, in your neglect of it. It is no accident

that capitalism has brought with it progress not merely in

production but also in knowledge. Egoism and competition are,

alas, stronger forces than public spirit and sense of duty. In

Russia, they say, it is impossible to get a decent piece of

bread.…Perhaps I am over-pessimistic concerning State

and other forms of communal enterprise, but I expect little good

from them. Bureaucracy is the death of all sound work. I have

seen and experienced too many dreadful warnings, even in

comparatively model Switzerland.

I am inclined to the view that the State can only be of real use to

industry as a limiting and regulative force. It must see to it that

competition among the workers is kept within healthy limits, that

all children are given a chance to develop soundly, and that

wages are high enough for the goods produced to be consumed.

But it can exert a decisive influence through its regulative function

if--and there again you are right--its measures are framed in an

objective spirit by independent experts.

I would like to write to you at greater length, but cannot find the




It seems to be a universal fact that minorities--especially when the individuals

composing them are distinguished by physical peculiarities--are treated by the

majorities among whom they live as an inferior order of beings. The tragedy of

such a fate lies not merely in the unfair treatment to which these minorities are

automatically subjected in social and economic matters, but also in the fact

that under the suggestive influence of the majority most of the victims

themselves succumb to the same prejudice and regard their brethren as

inferior beings. This second and greater part of the evil can be overcome by

closer combination and by deliberate education of the minority, whose

spiritual liberation can thus be accomplished.

The efforts of the American negroes in this direction are deserving of all

commendation and assistance.

Observations on the Present Situation in Europe

The distinguishing feature of the present political situation of the world, and in

particular of Europe, seems to me to be this, that political. development has

failed, both materially and intellectually, to keep pace with economic

necessity, which has changed its character in a comparatively short time. The

interests of each country must be subordinated to the interests of the wider

community. The struggle for this new orientation of political thought and

feeling is a severe one, because it has the tradition of centuries against it. But

the survival of Europe depends on its successful issue. It is my firm conviction

that once the psychological impediments are overcome the solution of the real

problems will not be such a terribly difficult matter. In order to create the right

atmosphere, the most essential thing is personal co-operation between men of

like mind. May our united efforts succeed in building a bridge of mutual trust

between the nations!

The Heirs of the Ages

Previous generations were able to look upon intellectual and cultural progress

as simply the inherited fruits of their forebears' labours, which made life easier

and more beautiful for them. But the calamities of our times show us that this

was a fatal illusion.

We see now that the greatest efforts are needed if this legacy of humanity's is

to prove a blessing and not a curse. For whereas formerly it was enough for a


man to have freed himself to some extent from personal egotism to make him

a valuable member of society, to-day he must also be required to overcome

national and class egotism. Only if he reaches those heights can he contribute

towards improving the lot of humanity.

As regards this most important need of the age the inhabitants of a small State

are better placed than those of a great Power, since the latter are exposed,

both in politics and economics, to the temptation to gain their ends by brute

force. The agreement between Holland and Belgium, which is the only bright

spot in European affairs during the last few years, encourages one to hope

that the small nations will play a leading part in the attempt to liberate the

world from the degrading yoke of militarism through the renunciation of the

individual country's unlimited right of self-determination.


Germany 1933


As long as I have any choice, I will only stay in a country where political

liberty, toleration, and equality of all citizens before the law are the rule.

Political liberty implies liberty to express one's political views orally and in

writing, toleration, respect for any and every individual opinion.

These conditions do not obtain in Germany at the present time. Those who

have done most for the cause of international understanding, among them

some of the leading artists, are being persecuted there.

Any social organism can become psychically distempered just as any

individual can, especially in times of difficulty. Nations usually survive these

distempers. I hope that healthy conditions will soon supervene in Germany,

and that in future her great men like Kant and Goethe will not merely be

commemorated from time to time, but that the principles which they inculcated

will also prevail in public life and in the general consciousness.

March, 1933.

Correspondence with the Prussian Academy of Sciences

The following correspondence is here published for the first time in its

authentic and complete form. The version published in German

newspapers was for the most part incorrect, important sentences being



The Academy's declaration of April I, 1933, against Einstein.

The Prussian Academy of Sciences heard with indignation from the

newspapers of Albert Einstein's participation in atrocity-mongering in France

and America. It immediately demanded an explanation. In the meantime

Einstein has announced his withdrawal from the Academy, giving as his reason

that he cannot continue to serve the Prussian State under its present

Government. Being a Swiss citizen, he also, it seems, intends to resign the

Prussian nationality which he acquired in 1913 simply by becoming a full

member of the Academy.

The Prussian Academy of Sciences is particularly distressed by Einstein's

activities as an agitator in foreign countries, as it and its members have always

felt themselves bound by the closest ties to the Prussian State and, while

abstaining strictly from all political partisanship, have alwa58 stressed and

remained faithful to the national idea. It has, therefore, no reason to regret

Einstein's withdrawal.

Prof. Dr. Ernst Heymann,

Perpetual Secretary.

Le Coq, near Ostende, April 5, 1933

To the Prussian Academy of Sciences,

I have received information from a thoroughly reliable source

that the Academy of Sciences has spoken in an official statement

of "Einstein's participation in atrocity-mongering in America and


I hereby declare that I have never taken any part in

atrocity-mongering, and I must add that I have seen nothing of

any such mongering anywhere. In general people have contented

themselves with reproducing and commenting on the official

statements and orders of responsible members of the German

Government, together with the programme for the annihilation of

the German Jews by economic methods.

The statements I have issued to the Press were concerned with

my intention to resign my position in the Academy and renounce

my Prussian citizenship; I gave as my reason for these steps that

I did not wish to live in a country where the individual does not


enjoy equality before the law and freedom to say and teach what

he likes.

Further, I described the present state of affairs in Germany as a

state of psychic distemper in the masses and also made some

remarks about its causes.

In a written document which I allowed the International League

for combating Anti-Semitism to make use of for the purpose of

enlisting support, and which was not intended for the Press at all,

I also called upon all sensible people, who are still faithful to the

ideals of a civilization in peril, to do their utmost to prevent this

mass-psychosis, which is exhibiting itself in such terrible

symptoms in Germany to-day, from spreading further.

It would have been an easy matter for the Academy to get hold

of a correct version of my words before issuing the sort of

statement about me that it has. The German Press has

reproduced a deliberately distorted version of my words, as

indeed was only to be expected with the Press muzzled as it is


I am ready to stand by every word I have published. In return, I

expect the Academy to communicate this statement of mine to

its members and also to the German public before which I have

been slandered, especially as it has itself had a hand in slandering

me before that public.

The Academy's Answer of April 11, 1933

The Academy would like to point out that its statement of April

1, 1933. was based not merely on German but principally on

foreign, particularly French and Belgian, newspaper reports

which Herr Einstein has not contradicted; in addition, it had

before it his much-canvassed statement to the League for

combating anti-Semitism, in which he deplores Germany's

relapse into the barbarism of long-passed ages. Moreover, the

Academy has reason to know that Herr Einstein, who according

to his own statement has taken no part in atrocitymongering, has

at least done nothing to counteract unjust suspicions and

slanders, which, in the opinion of the Academy, it was his duty

as one of its senior members to do. Instead of that Herr Einstein

has made statements, and in foreign countries at that, such as,


coming from a man of world-wide reputation, were bound to be

exploited and abused by the enemies not merely of the present

German Government but of the whole German people.

For the Prussian Academy of Sciences,

(Signed) H. von Ficker,

E. Heymann,

Perpetual Secretaries.

Berlin, April 7, 1933

The Prussian Academy of Sciences.

Professor Albert Einstein, Leyden,

c/o Prof. Ehrenfest, Witte Rosenstr.

Dear Sir,

As the present Principal Secretary of the Prussian Academy I

beg to acknowledge the receipt of your communication dated

March 28 announcing your resignation of your membership of

the Academy. The Academy took cognizance of your

resignation in its plenary session of March 30, 1933.

While the Academy profoundly regrets the turn events have

taken, this regret is inspired by the thought that a man of the

highest scientific authority, whom many years of work among

Germans and many years of membership of our society must

have made familiar with the German character and German

habits of thought, should have chosen this moment to associate

himself with a body of people abroad who--partly no doubt

through ignorance of actual conditions and events--have done

much damage to our German people by disseminating erroneous

views and unfounded rumours. We had confidently expected

that one who had belonged to our Academy for so long would

have ranged himself, irrespective of his own political sympathies,

on the side of the defenders of our nation against the flood of lies

which has been let loose upon it. In these days of mud-slinging,

some of it vile, some of it ridiculous, a good word for the

German people from you in particular might have produced a

great effect, especially abroad. Instead of which your testimony

has served as a handle to the enemies not merely of the present

Government but of the German people. This has come as a

bitter and grievous disappointment to us, which would no doubt

have led inevitably to a parting of the ways even if we had not


received your resignation.

Yours faithfully,

(signed) von Ficker.

Le Coq-sur-Mer, Belgium, April 12, 1933

To the Prussian Academy of Sciences, Berlin.

I have received your communication of the seventh instant and

deeply deplore the mental attitude displayed in it.

As regards the fact, I can only reply as follows: What you say

about my behaviour is, at bottom, merely another form of the

statement you have already published, in which you accuse me

of having taken part in atrocity-mongering against the German

nation. I have already, in my last letter, characterized this

accusation as slanderous.

You have also remarked that a "good word" on my part for "the

German people" would have produced a great effect abroad. To

this I must reply that such a testimony as you suggest would have

been equivalent to a repudiation of all those notions of justice

and liberty for which I have all my life stood. Such a testimony

would not be, as you put it, a good word for the German nation;

on the contrary, it would only have helped the cause of those

who are seeking to undermine the ideas and principles which

have won for the German nation a place of honour in the

civilized world. By giving such a testimony in the present

circumstances I should have been contributing, even if only

indirectly, to the barbarization of manners and the destruction of

all existing cultural values.

It was for this reason that I felt compelled to resign from the

Academy, and your letter only shows me how right I was to do


Munich, Aril 8, 1933

From the Bavarian Academy of Sciences to Professor Albert Einstein.



In your letter to the Prussian Academy of Sciences you have

given the present state of affairs in Germany as the reason for

your resignation. The Bavarian Academy of Sciences, which

some years ago elected you a corresponding member, is also a

German Academy, closely allied to the Prussian and other

German Academies; hence your withdrawal from the Prussian

Acadeiny of Sciences is bound to affect your relations with our


We must therefore ask you how you envisage your relations with

our Academy after what has passed between yourself and the

Prussian Academy.

The President of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences.

Le Coq-sur-Mer, April 21, 1933

To the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, Munich.

I have given it as the reason for my resignation from the Prussian

Academy that in the present circumstances I have no wish either

to be a German citizen or to remain in a position of

quasi-dependence on the Prussian Ministry of Education.

These reasons would not, in themselves, involve the severing of

my relations with the Bavarian Academy. If I nevertheless desire

my name to be removed from the list of members, it is for a

different reason.

The primary duty of an Academy is to encourage and protect

the scientific life of a country. The learned societies of Germany

have, however--to the best of knowledge--stood by and said

nothing while a not inconsiderable proportion of German savants

and students, and also of professional men of university

education, have been deprived of all chance of getting

employment or earning their livings in Germany. I would rather

not belong to any society which behaves in such a manner, even

if it does so under external pressure.

A Reply

The following lines are Einstein's answer to an invitation to associate

himself with a French manifesto against Anti-Semitism in Germany.


I have considered this most important proposal, which has a bearing on

several things that I have nearly at heart, carefully from every angle. As a

result I have come to the conclusion that I cannot take a personal part in this

extremely important affair, for two reasons:--

In the first place I am, after all, still a German citizen, and in the second I am a

Jew. As regards the first point I must add that I have worked in German

institutions and have always been treated with full confidence in Germany.

However deeply I may regret the things that are being done there, however

strongly I am bound to condemn the terrible mistakes that are being made

with the approval of the Government; it is impossible for me to take part

personally in an enterprise set on foot by responsible members of a foreign

Government. In order that you may appreciate this fully, suppose that a

French citizen in a more or less analogous situation had got up a protest

against the French Government's action in conjunction with prominent German

statesmen. Even if you fully admitted that the protest was amply warranted by

the facts, you would still, I expect, regard the behaviour of your fellow-citizen

as an act of treachery. If Zola had felt it necessary to leave France at the time

of the Dreyfus case, he would still certainly not have associated himself with a

protest by German official personages, however much he might have

approved of their action. He would have confined himself to--blushing for his

countrymen. In the second place, a protest against injustice and violence is

incomparably more valuable if it comes entirely from people who have been

prompted to it purely by sentiments of humanity and a love of Pew This

cannot be said of a man like me, a few who regards other Jews as his

brothers. For him, an injustice done to the Jews is the same as an injustice

done to himself. He must not be the judge in his own case, but wait for the

judgment of impartial outsiders.

These are my reasons. But I should like to add that I have always honoured

and admired that highly developed sense of justice which is one of the noblest

features of the French tradition.


The Jews

Jewish Ideals

The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, an almost fanatical love of justice,

and the desire for personal independence--these are the features of the Jewish

tradition which make me thank my stars that I belong to it.


Those who are raging to-day against the ideals of reason and individual liberty

and are trying to establish a spiritless State-slavery by brute force rightly see

in us their irreconcilable foes. History has given us a difficult row to hoe; but

so long as we remain devoted servants of truth, justice, and liberty, we shall

continue not merely to survive as the oldest of living peoples, but by creative

work to bring forth fruits which contribute to the ennoblement of the human

race, as heretofore.

Is there a Jewish Point of View?

In the philosophical sense there is, in my opinion, no specifically Jewish

outlook. Judaism seems to me to be concerned almost exclusively with the

moral attitude in life and to life. I look upon it as the essence of an attitude to

life which is incarnate in the Jewish people rather than the essence of the laws

laid down in the Thora and interpreted in the Talmud. To me, the Thora and

the Talmud are merely the most important evidence for the manner in which

the Jewish conception of life held sway in earlier times.

The essence of that conception seems to me to lie in an affirmative attitude to

the life of all creation. The life of the individual has meaning only in so far as it

aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful. Life is

sacred--that is to say, it is the supreme value, to which all other values are

subordinate. The hallowing of the supra-individual life brings in its train a

reverence for everything spiritual--a particularly characteristic feature of the

Jewish tradition.

Judaism is not a creed: the Jewish God is simply a negation of superstition, an

imaginary result of its elimination. It is also an attempt to base the moral law

on fear, a regrettable and discreditable attempt. Yet it seems to me that the

strong moral tradition of the Jewish nation has to a large extent shaken itself

free from this fear. It is clear also that "serving God" was equated with

"serving the living." The best of the Jewish people, especially the Prophets and

Jesus, contended tirelessly for this.

Judaism is thus no transcendental religion; it is concerned with life as we live it

and can up to a point grasp it, and nothing else. It seems to me, therefore,

doubtful whether it can be called a religion in the accepted sense of the word,

particularly as no "faith" but the sanctification of life in a supra-personal sense

is demanded of the Jew.

But the Jewish tradition also contains something else, something which finds

splendid expression in many of the Psalms--namely, a sort of intoxicated joy


and amazement at the beauty and grandeur of this world, of which, man can

just form a faint notion. It is the feeling from which true scientific research

draws its spiritual sustenance, but which also seems to find expression in the

song of birds. To tack this on to the idea of God seems mere childish


Is what I have described a distinguishing mark of Judaism? Is it to be found

anywhere else under another name? In its pure form, nowhere, not even in

Judaism, where the pure doctrine is obscured by much worship of the letter.

Yet Judaism seems to me one of its purest and most vigorous manifestations.

This applies particularly to the fundamental principle of the sanctification of


It is characteristic that the animals were expressly included in the command to

keep holy the Sabbath day, so strong was the feeling that the ideal demands

the solidarity of all living things. The insistence on the solidarity of all human

beings finds still stronger expression, apd it is no mere chance that the

demands of Socialism were for the most part first raised by Jews.

How strongly developed this sense of the sanctity of life is in the Jewish

people is admirably illustrated by a little remark which Walter Rathenau once

made to me in conversation: "When a Jew says that he's going hunting to

amuse himself, he lies." The Jewish sense of the sanctity of life could not be

more simply expressed.

Jewish Youth

An Answer to a Questionnaire

It is important that the young should be induced to take an interest in Jewish

questions and difficulties, and you deserve gratitude for devoting yourself to

this task in your paper. This is of moment not merely for the destiny of the

Jews, whose welfare depends on their sticking together and helping each

other, but, over and above that, for the cultivation of the international spirit,

which is in danger everywhere to-day from a narrow-minded nationalism.

Here, since the days of the Prophets, one of the fairest fields of activity has

lain open to our nation, scattered as it is over the earth and united only by a

common tradition.

Addresses on Reconstruction in Palestine



Ten years ago, when I first had the pleasure of addressing you on behalf of

the Zionist cause, almost all our hopes were still fixed on the future. To-day

we can look back on these ten years with joy; for in that time the united

energies of the Jewish people have accomplished a splendid piece of

successful constructive work in Palestine, which certainly exceeds anything

that we dared to hope then.

We have also successfully stood the severe test to which the events of the last

few years have subjected us. Ceaseless work, supported by a noble purpose,

is leading slowly but surely to success. The latest pronouncements of the

British Government indicate a return to a juster judgment of our case; this we

recognize with gratitude.

But we must never forget what this crisis has taught us--namely, that the

establishment of satisfactory relations between the Jews and the Arabs is not

England's affair but ours. We--that is to say, the Arabs and ourselves--have

got to agree on the main outlines of an advantageous partnership which shall

satisfy the needs of both nations. A just solution of this problem and one

worthy of both nations is an end no less important and no less worthy of our

efforts than the promotion of the work of construction itself. Remember that

Switzerland represents a higher stage of political development than any

national state, precisely because of the greater political problems which had to

be solved before a stable community could be built up out of groups of

different nationality.

Much remains to be done, but one at least of Herzl's aims has already been

realized: its task in Palestine has given the Jewish people an astonishing degree

of solidarity and the optimism without which no organism can lead a healthy


Anything we may do for the common purpose is done not merely for our

brothers in Palestine, but for the well-being and honour of the whole Jewish



We are assembled to-day for the purpose of calling to mind our age-old

community, its destiny, and its problems. It is a community of moral tradition,

which has always shown its strength and vitality in times of stress. In all ages it

has produced men who embodied the conscience of the Western world,

defenders of human dignity and justice.

So long as we ourselves care about this community it will continue to exist to


the benefit of mankind, in spite of the fact that it possesses no self-contained

organization. A decade or two ago a group of far-sighted men, among whom

Herzl of immortal memory stood out above the rest, came to the conclusion

that we needed a spiritual centre in crder to preserve our sense of solidarity in

difficult times. Thus arose the idea of Zionism and the work of settlement in

Palestine, the successful realization of which we have been permitted to

witness, at least in its highly promising beginnings.

I have had the privilege of seeing, to my great joy and satisfaction, how much

this achievement has contributed to the recovery of the Jewish people, which

is exposed, as a minority among the nations, not merely to external dangers,

but also to internal ones of a psychological nature.

The crisis which the work of construction has had to face in the last few years

has lain heavy upon us and is not yet completely surmounted. But the most

recent reports show that the world, and especially the British Government, is

disposed to recognize the great things which lie behind our struggle for the

Zionist ideal. Let us at this moment remember with gratitude our leader

Weizmann, whose zeal and circumspection have helped the good cause to


The difficulties we have been through have also brought some good in their

train. They have shown us once more how strong the bond is which unites the

Jews of all countries in a common destiny. The crisis has also purified our

attitude to the question of Palestine, purged it of the dross of nationalism. It

has been clearly proclaimed that we are not seeking to create a political

society, but that our aim is, in accordance with the old tradition of Jewry, a

cultural one in the widest sense of the word. That being so, it is for us to solve

the problem of living side by side with our brother the Arab in an open,

generous, and worthy manner. We have here an opportunity of showing what

we have learnt in the thousands of years of our martyrdom. If we choose the

right path we shall succeed and give the rest of the world a fine example.

Whatever we do for Palestine we do it for the honour and well-being of the

whole Jewish people.


I am delighted to have the opportunity of addressing a few words to the youth

of this country which is faithful to the common aims of Jewry. Do not be

discouraged by the difficulties which confront us in Palestine. Such things

serve to test the will to live of our community.


Certain proceedings and pronouncements of the English administration have

been justly criticized. We must not, however, leave it at that but learn by


We need to pay great attention to our relations with the Arabs. By cultivating

these carefully we shall be able in future to prevent things from becoming so

dangerously strained that people can take advantage of them to provoke acts

of hostility. This goal is perfectly within our reach, because our work of

construction has been, and must continue to be, carried out in such a manner

as to serve the real interests of the Arab population also.

In this way we shall be able to avoid getting ourselves quite so often into the

position, disagreeable for Jews and Arabs alike, of having to call in the

mandatory Power as arbitrator. We shall thereby be following not merely the

dictates of Providence but also our traditions, which alone give the Jewish

community meaning and stability.

For that community is not, and must never become, a political one; this is the

only permanent source whence it can draw new strength and the only ground

on which its existence can be justified.


For the last two thousand years the common property of the Jewish people

has consisted entirely of its past. Scattered over the wide world, our nation

possessed nothing in common except its carefully guarded tradition. Individual

Jews no doubt produced great work, but it seemed as if the Jewish people as

a whole had not the strength left for great collective achievements.

Now all that is changed. History has set us a great and noble task in the shape

of active cooperation in the building up of Palestine. Eminent members of our

race are already at work with all their might on the realization of this aim. The

opportunity is presented to us of setting up centres of civilization which the

whole Jewish people can regard as its work. We nurse the hope of erecting in

Palestine a home of our own national culture which shall help to awaken the

near East to new economic and spiritual life.

The object which the leaders of Zionism have in view is not a political but a

social and cultural one. The community in Palestine must approach the social

ideal of our forefathers as it is laid down in the Bible, and at the same time

become a seat of modern intellectual life, a spiritual centre for the Jews of the

whole world. In accordance with this notion, the establishment of a Jewish

university in Jerusalem constitutes one of the most important aims of the


Zionist organization.

During the last few months I have been to America in order to help to raise

the material basis for this university there. The success of this enterprise was

quite natural. Thanks to the untiring energy and splendid self-sacrificing spirit

of the Jewish doctors in America, we have succeeded in collecting enough

money for the creation of a medical faculty, and the preliminary work isbeing

started at once. After this success I have no doubt that the material basis for

the other faculties will soon be forthcoming. The medical faculty is first of all to

be developed as a research institute and to concentrate on making the country

healthy, a most important item in the work of development. Teaching on a

large scale will only become important later on. As a number of highly

competent scientific workers have already signified their readiness to take up

appointments at the university, the establishment of a medical faculty seems to

be placed beyond all doubt. I may add that a special fund for the university,

entirely distinct from the general fund for the development of the country, has

been opened. For the latter considerable sums have been collected during

these months in America, thanks to the indefatigable labours of Professor

Weizmann and other Zionist leaders, chiefly through the self-sacrificing spirit

of the middle classes. I conclude with a warm appeal to the Jews in Germany

to contribute all they can, in spite of the present economic difficulties, for the

building up of the Jewish home in Palestine. This is not a matter of charity, but

an enterprise which concerns all Jews and the success of which promises to

be a source of the highest satisfaction to all.


For us Jews Palestine is not just a charitable or colonial enterprise, but a

problem of central importance for the Jewish people. Palestine is not primarily

a place of refuge for the Jews of Eastern Europe, but the embodiment of the

re-awakening corporate spirit of the whole Jewish nation. Is it the right

moment for this corporate sense to be awakened and strengthened? This is a

question to which I feel compelled, not merely by my spontaneous feelings but

on rational grounds, to return an unqualified "yes."

Let us just cast our eyes over the history of the Jews in Germany during the

past hundred years. A century ago our forefathers, with few exceptions, lived

in the ghetto. They were poor, without political rights, separated from the

Gentiles by a barrier of religious traditions, habits of life, and legal restrictions;

their intellectual development was restricted to their own literature, and they

had remained almost unaffected by the mighty advance of the European

intellect which dates from the Renaissance. And yet these obscure, humble

people had one great advantage over us each of them belonged in every fibre


of his being to a community m which he was completely absorbed, in which

he felt himself a fully pnvileged member, and which demanded nothing of him

that was contrary to his natural habits of thought. Our forefathers in those

days were pretty poor specimens intellectually and physically, but socially

speaking they enjoyed an enviable spiritual equilibrium.

Then came emancipation, which suddenly opened up undreamed-of

possibilities to the individual. Some few rapidly made a position for

themselves in the higher walks of business and social life. They greedily

lapped up the splendid triumphs which the art and science of the Western

world had achieved. They joined in the process with burning enthusiasm,

themselves making contributions of lasting value. At the same time they

imitated the external forms of Gentile life, departed more and more from their

religious and social traditions, and adopted Gentile customs, manners, and

habits of thought. It seemed as though they were completely losing their

identity in the superior numbers and more highly organized culture of the

nations among whom they lived, so that in a few generations there would be

no trace of them left. A complete disappearance of Jewish nationality in

Central and Western Europe seemed inevitable.

But events turned out otherwise. Nationalities of different race seem to have

an instinct which prevents them from fusing. However much the Jews adapted

themselves, in language, manners, and to a great extent even in the forms of

religion, to the European peoples among whom they lived, the feeling of

strangeness between the Jews and their hosts never disappeared. This

spontaneous feeling is the ultimate cause of anti-Semitism, which is therefore

not to be got rid of by well-meaning propaganda. Nationalities want to pursue

their own path, not to blend. A satisfactory state of affairs can be brought

about only by mutual toleration and respect.

The first step in that direction is that we Jews should once more become

conscious of our existence as a nationality and regain the self-respect that is

necessary to a healthy existence. We must learn once more to glory in our

ancestors and our history and once again take upon ourselves, as a nation,

cultural tasks of a sort calculated to strengthen our sense of the community. It

is not enough for us to play a part as individuals in the cultural development of

the human race, we must also tackle tasks which only nations as a whole can

perform. Only so can the Jews regain social health.

It is from this point of view that I would have you look at the Zionist

movement. To-day history has assigned to us the task of taking an active part

in the economic and cultural reconstruction of our native land. Enthusiasts,

men of brilliant gifts, have cleared the way, and many excellent members of


our race are prepared to devote themselves heart and soul to the cause. May

every one of them fully realize the importance of this work and contribute,

according to his powers, to its success!

The Jewish Community

A speech in London

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is no easy matter for me to overcome my natural inclination to a life of quiet

contemplation. But I could not remain deaf to the appeal of the O.R.T. and

O.Z.E. societies*; for in responding to it I am responding, as it were, to the

appeal of our sorely oppressed Jewish nation.

The position of our scattered Jewish community is a moral barometer for the

political world. For what surer index of political morality and respect for

justice can there be than the attitude of the nations towards a defenceless

minority, whose peculiarity lies in their preservation of an ancient cultural


*Jewish charitable associations.

This barometer is low at the present moment, as we are painfully aware from

the way we are treated. But it is this very lowness that confirms me in the

conviction that it is our duty to preserve and consolidate our community.

Embedded in the tradition of the Jewish people there is a love of justice and

reason which must continue to work for the good of all nations now and in the

future. In modern times this tradition has produced Spinoza and Karl Marx.

Those who would preserve the spirit must also look after the body to which it

is attached. The O.Z.E. society literally looks after the bodies of our people.

In Eastern Europe it is working day and night to help our people there, on

whom the economic depression has fallen particularly heavily, to keep body

and soul together; while the O.R.T. society is trying to get rid of a severe

social and economic handicap under which the Jews have laboured since the

Middle Ages. Because we were then excluded from all directly productive

occupations, we were forced into the purely commercial ones. The only way

of really helping the Jew in Eastern countries is to give him access to new

fields of activity, for which he is struggling all over the world. This is the grave

problem which the O.R.T. society is successfully tackling.

It is to you English fellow-Jews that we now appeal to help us in this great


enterprise which splendid men have set on foot. The last few years, nay, the

last few days, have brought us a disappointment which must have touched you

in particular nearly. Do not gird at fate, but rather look on these events as a

reason for remaining true to the cause of the Jewish commonwealth. I am

convinced that in doing that we shall also indirectly be promoting those

general human ends which we must always recognize as the highest.

Remember that difficulties and obstacles are a valuable source of health and

strength to any society. We should not have survived for thousands of years

as a community if our bed had been of roses; of that I am quite sure.

But we have a still fairer consolation. Our friends are not exactly numerous,

but among them are men of noble spirit and strong sense of justice, who have

devoted their lives to uplifting human society and liberating the individual from

degrading oppression.

We are happy and fortunate to have such men from the Gentile world among

us to-night; their presence lends an added solemnity to this memorable

evening. It gives me great pleasure to see before me Bernard Shaw and H. G.

Wells, to whose view of life I am particularly attracted.

You, Mr. Shaw, have succeeded in winning the affection and joyous

admiration of the world while pursuing a path that has led many others to a

martyr's crown. You have not merely preached moral sermons to your

fellows; you have actually mocked at things which many of them held sacred.

You have done what only the born artist can do. From your magic box you

have produced innumerable little figures which, while resembling human

beings, are compact not of flesh and blood, but of brains, wit, and charm.

And yet in a way they are more human than we are ourselves, and one almost

forgets that they are creations not of Nature, but of Bernard Shaw. You make

these charming little figures dance in a miniature world in front of which the

Graces stand sentinel and permit no bitterness to enter. He who has looked

into this little world sees our actual world in a new light; its puppets insinuate

themselves into real people, making them suddenly look quite different. By

thus holding the mirror up to us all you have had a liberating effect on us such

as hardly any other of our contemporaries has done and have relieved life of

something of its earth-bound heaviness. For this we are all devoutly grateful to

you, and also to fate, which along with grievous plagues has also given us the

physician and liberator of our souls. I personally am also grateful to you for

the unforgettable words which you have addressed to my mythical namesake

who makes life so difficult for me, although he is really, for all his clumsy,

formidable size, quite a harmless fellow.


To you all I say that the existence and destiny of our people depend less on

external factors than on ourselves remaining faithful to the moral traditions

which have enabled us to survive for thousands of years despite the heavy

storms that have broken over our heads. In the service of life sacrifice

becomes grace.

Working Palestine

Among Zionist organizations "Working Palestine" is the one whose work is of

most direct benefit to the most valuable class of people living there--namely,

those who are transforming deserts into flourishing settlements by the labour

of their hands. These workers are a selection, made on a voluntary basis,

from the whole Jewish nation, an élite composed of strong, confident, and

unselfish people. They are not ignorant labourers who sell the labour of their

hands to the highest bidder, but educated, intellectually vigorous, free men,

from whose peaceful struggle with a neglected soil the whole Jewish nation

are the gainers, directly and indirectly. By lightening their heavy lot as far as

we can we shall be saving the most valuable sort of human life; for the first

settlers' struggle on ground not yet made habitable is a difficult and dangerous

business involving a heavy personal sacrifice. How true this is, only they can

judge who have seen it with their own eyes. Anyone who helps to improve the

equipment of these men is helping on the good work at a crucial point.

It is, moreover, this working class alone that has it in its power to establish

healthy relations with the Arabs, which is the most important political task of

Zionism. Administrations come and go; but it is human relations that finally

turn the scale in the lives of nations. Therefore to support "Working Palestine"

is at the same time to promote a humane and worthy policy in Palestine, and

to oppose an effective resistance to those undercurrents of narrow nationalism

from which the whole political world, and in a less degree the small political

world of Palestine affairs, is suffering.

Jewish Recovery

I gladly accede to your paper's request that I should address an appeal to the

Jews of Hungary on behalf of Keren Hajessod.

The greatest enemies of the national consciousness and honour of the Jews

are fatty degeneration--by which I mean the unconscionableness which comes

from wealth and ease--and a kind of inner dependence on the surrounding

Gentile world which comes from the loosening of the fabric of Jewish society.

The best in man can flourish only when he loses himself in a community.


Hence the moral danger of the Jew who has lost touch with his own people

and is regarded as a foreigner by the people of his adoption. Only too often a

contemptible and joyless egoism has resulted from such circumstances. The

weight of outward oppression on the Jewish people is particularly heavy at the

moment. But this very bitterness has done us good. A revival of Jewish

national life, such as the last generation could never have dreamed of, has

begun. Through the operation of a newly awakened sense of solidarity among

the Jews, the scheme of colonizing Palestine launched by a handful of devoted

and judicious leaders in the face of apparently insuperable difficulties, has

already prospered so far that I feel no doubt about its permanent success.

The value of this achievement for the Jews everywhere is very great. Palestine

will be a centre of culture for all Jews, a refuge for the most grievously

oppressed, a field of action for the best among us, a unifying ideal, and a

means of attaining inward health for the Jews of the whole world.

Anti-Semitism and Academic Youth

So long as we lived in the ghetto our Jewish nationality involved for us

material difficulties and sometimes physical danger, but no social or

psychological problems. With emancipation the position changed, particularly

for those Jews who turned to the intellectual professions. In school and at the

university the young Jew is exposed to the influence of a society with a definite

national tinge, which he respects and admires, from which he receives his

mental sustenance, to which he feels himself to belong, while it, on the other

hand, treats him, as one of an alien race, with a certain contempt and hostility.

Driven by the suggestive influence of this psychological superiority rather than

by utilitarian considerations, he turns his back on his people and his traditions,

and considers himself as belonging entirely to the others while he tries in vain

to conceal from himself and them the fact that the relation is not reciprocal.

Hence that pathetic creature, the baptized Jewish Geheimrat of yesterday

and to-day. In most cases it is not pushfulness and lack of character that have

made him what he is, but, as I have said, the suggestive power of an

environment superior in numbers and influence. He knows, of course, that

many admirable sons of the Jewish people have made important contributions

to the glory of European civilization; but have they not all, with a few

exceptions, done much the same as he?

In this case, as in many mental disorders, the cure lies in a clear knowledge of

one's condition and its causes. We must be conscious of our alien race and

draw the logical conclusions from it. It is no use trying to convince the others

of our spiritual and intellectual equality by arguments addressed to the reason,

when their attitude does not originate in their intellects at all. Rather must we

emancipate ourselves socially and supply our social needs, in the main,


ourselves. We must have our own students' societies and adopt an attitude of

courteous but consistent reserve to the Gentiles. And let us live after our own

fashion there and not ape duelling and drinking customs which are foreign to

our nature. It is possible to be a civilized European and a good citizen and at

the same time a faithful Jew who loves his race and honours his fathers. If we

remember this and act accordingly, the problem of anti-Semitism, in so far as

it is of a social nature, is solved for us.

A Letter to Professor Dr. Hellpach, Minister of State

Dear Herr Hellpach,

I have read your article on Zionism and the Zurich Congress and

feel, as a strong devotee of the Zionist idea, that I must answer

you, even if it is only shortly.

The Jews are a community bound together by ties of blood and

tradition, and not of religion only: the attitude of the rest of the

world towards them is sufficient proof of this. When I came to

Germany fifteen years ago I discovered for the first time that I

was a Jew, and I owe this discovery more to Gentiles than Jews.

The tragedy of the Jews is that they are people of a definite

historical type, who lack the support of a community to keep

them together. The result is a want of solid foundations in the

individual which amounts in its extremer forms to moral

instability. I realized that the only possible salvation for the race

was that every Jew in the world should become attached to a

living society to which the individual rejoiced to belong and

which enabled him to bear the hatred and the humiliations that he

has to put up with from the rest of the world.

I saw worthy Jews basely caricatured, and the sight made my

heart bleed. I saw how schools, comic papers, and innumerable

other forces of the Gentile majority undermined the confidence

even of the best of my fellow-Jews, and felt that this could not

be allowed to continue.

Then I realized that only a common enterprise dear to the hearts

of Jews all over the world could restore this people to health. It

was a great achievement of Herzl's to have realized and

proclaimed at the top of his voice that, the traditional attitude of

the Jews being what it was, the establishment of a national home


or, more accurately, a centre in Palestine, was a suitable object

on which to concentrate our efforts.

All this you call nationalism, and there is something in the

accusation. But a communal purpose, without which we can

neither live nor die in this hostile world, can always be called by

that ugly name. In any case it is a nationalism whose aim is not

power but dignity and health. If we did not have to live among

intolerant, narrow-minded, and violent people, I should be the

first to throw over all nationalism in favour of universal humanity.

The objection that we Jews cannot be proper citizens of the

German State, for example, if we want to be a "nation," is based

on a misunderstanding of the nature of the State which springs

from the intolerance of national majorities. Against that

intolerance we shall never be safe, whether we call ourselves a

"people" (or "nation") or not.

I have put all this with brutal frankness for the sake of brevity,

but I know from your writings that you are a man who attends to

the sense, not the form.

Letter to an Arab

March 15, 1930


Your letter has given me great pleasure. It shows me that there is good will

available on your side too for solving the present difficulties in a manner

worthy of both our nations. I believe that these difficulties are more

psychological than real, and that they can be got over if both sides bring

honesty and good will to the task.

What makes the present position so bad is the fact that Jews and Arabs

confront each other as opponents before the mandatory power. This state of

affairs is unworthy of both nations and can only be altered by our finding a via

media on which both sides agree.

I will now tell you how I think that the present difficulties might be remedied;

at the same time I must add that this is only my personal opinion, which I have

discussed with nobody. I am writing this letter in German because I am not

capable of writing it in English myself and because I want myself to bear the


entire responsibility for it. You will, I am sure, be able to get some Jewish

friend of conciliation to translate it.

A Privy Council is to be formed to which the Jews and Arabs shall each send

four representatives, who must be independent of all political parties.

Each group to be composed as follows:--

A doctor, elected by the Medical Association;

A lawyer, elected by the lawyers;

A working men's representative, elected by the trade unions;

An ecclesiastic, elected by the ecclesiastics.

These eight people are to meet once a week. They undertake not to espouse

the sectional interests of their profession or nation but conscientiously and to

the best of their power to aim at the welfare of the whole population of the

country. Their deliberations shall be secret and they are strictly forbidden to

give any information about them, even in private. When a decision has been

reached on any subject in which not less than three members on each side

concur, it may be published, but only in the name of the whole Council. If a

member dissents he may retire from the Council, but he is not thereby

released from the obligation to secrecy. If one of the elective bodies above

specified is dissatisfied with a resolution of the Council, it may repiace its

representative by another.

Even if this "Privy Council" has no definite powers it may nevertheless bring

about the gradual composition of differences, and secure as united

representation of the common interests of the country before the mandatory

power, clear of the dust of ephemeral politics.

Christianity and Judaism

If one purges the Judaism of the Prophets and Christianity as Jesus Christ

taught it of all subsequent additions, especially those of the priests, one is left

with a teaching which is capable of curing all the social ills of humanity.

It is the duty of every man of good will to strive steadfastly in his own little

world to make this teaching of pure humanity a living force, so far as he can. If

he makes an honest attempt in this direction without being crushed and

trampled under foot by his contemporaries, he may consider himself and the

community to which he belongs lucky.


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