Einstein's Politics Still Stir Debate

WEST BERLIN—Both East and West Germany must come to terms with the various political views of Albert Einstein, a West German physicist told colleagues at the annual meeting of the German Physical Society here this spring. "Einstein needs to be rehabilitated" in both countries, said Jacob Szer, a theoretical physicist at the Technical University in West Berlin. Despite universal admiration for his early scientific work, Szer said, scientists and politicians on each side of the Iron Curtain

Richard Sietmann
Jun 1, 1987
WEST BERLIN—Both East and West Germany must come to terms with the various political views of Albert Einstein, a West German physicist told colleagues at the annual meeting of the German Physical Society here this spring.

"Einstein needs to be rehabilitated" in both countries, said Jacob Szer, a theoretical physicist at the Technical University in West Berlin. Despite universal admiration for his early scientific work, Szer said, scientists and politicians on each side of the Iron Curtain remain uncomfortable with aspects of Einstein's political beliefs.

The current intense public debate over national identity made Szer's paper one of the best-attended of the week-long conference. And his words evoked heated comments from the large audience. Supporters of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Szer noted, commonly praise Einstein's socialism and humanism while suppressing or reinterpreting his commitment to the Jewish people. Thus Friedrich Herneck, a historian of physics in East Berlin, has...

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