1 0 6 G E R M A N A N T I - R E L AT I V I S T S
1920, when Weyland and Gehrcke stepped to the podium before a large audience comprised
mainly of curiosity seekers. Einstein attended, joined by Walther Nernst, Max von Laue,
and Ilse Einstein, his stepdaughter and
Weyland ranted and raved, accusing Einstein of everything from plagiarism to scientific
Laue found nothing new or surprising in Gehrcke’s
He was never-
theless shocked that a fellow physicist would take part in such a gathering, where anti-
Semitic leaflets were distributed, anti-Semitic literature was on display in the foyer, and
swastika lapel pins were on sale at the
Weyland also insinuated that anti-
relativists were plentiful, enough so that German scientists would soon close ranks against
Einstein. His techniques included lucrative offers to scientists aimed at inducing them to
He announced two more lectures for 2 September, with many more
Philipp Lenard was among the scheduled speakers.
By then, at the latest, it became evident to Einstein and his supporters that Gehrcke and
other anti-relativists had joined forces with right-wing elements. What remained unclear
was the extent of their support within the German physics community. Laue recognized in
Weyland a dangerous instigator who employed the standard tactics of name-dropping and
Three days later, Einstein responded indignantly (Einstein 1920f [Doc. 45]) in the highly
visible Berliner Tageblatt. Weyland and Gehrcke had cited Lenard’s criticism of general
relativity in their talks, and Weyland had announced that Lenard’s essay could be purchased
in the foyer during intermission. Einstein thus felt compelled also to attack the views of Le-
nard, who had not been present, as the only internationally known, outspoken critic. Al-
though he acknowledged Lenard’s mastery of experimental physics, he considered Le-
nard’s objections to the general theory of relativity “so superficial that [he] had not deemed
it necessary to address them in detail” in the past, in particular since Lenard had “yet to ac-
Detailed accounts of the meeting, as reported by Berliner Tageblatt, Vossische Zeitung, Vor-
wärts, and 8-Uhr Abendblatt, were reprinted in Weyland 1920b.
Weyland 1920b, pp. 10–20.
Commenting on Gehrcke 1920, he characterized it as “old hat” (“er den alten Kohl wieder auf-
wärmte”; Max von Laue to Arnold Sommerfeld, 25 August 1920, GyMDM, Nachlass Sommerfeld,
8-Uhr-Abendblatt, 25 August 1920 (reprinted in Weyland 1920b, pp. 8–9); Vorwärts, 25 August
1920, Evening Edition, p. 2. Two days later a parody of the atmosphere was published in the form of
a long chant led by nationalist professors and echoed by a chorus of fraternity students (“Die Einstein
Hetz—In der Philharmonie zu singen”; Vorwärts, 27 August 1920). See Grundmann 1998, p. 155–
Felix Ehrenhaft (1879–1952), Extraordinary Professor of Physics at the University of Vienna,
received a letter from Weyland dated 23 July 1920 in which he was assured a sum of 10,000 to 15,000
marks for his participation (Felix Ehrenhaft to Einstein, 10 September 1920). The letter was published
in several newspapers, among them in the Berliner Tageblatt, 4 September 1920, Evening Edition, p.
Eventually only one such meeting was held and only a single anti-relativist spoke on that occa-
sion. On 2 September, Ludwig Glaser (1889–?), Privatdozent at the University of Würzburg, who had
assisted Karl Schwarzschild in his redshift measurements, discussed the accuracy of the findings of
the British eclipse expeditions. He also criticized the redshift experiments of Leonhard Grebe and Al-
bert Bachem. See Tägliche Rundschau, 4 September 1920, Evening Edition, p. .
He replied to Weyland 1920a in Laue 1920a.