D O C U M E N T 2 7 J A N U A R Y 1 9 2 2 4 5
27. To Arnold Sommerfeld
[Berlin, on or after 18 January
1922][1]
Dear Sommerfeld,
Your cordial letter and your telegram really did please me very
much.[2]
I would
have written you long ago had I not been so much on the treadmill that every minute
was devoured out of dire necessity. I had to cancel going to Göttingen at the last
minute as well, to my great distress; I would have liked to congratulate Hilbert in
person.[3]
With great admiration do I observe your step-by-step disentanglement of
spectra; how adept you are at conforming these few selection rules to so much
material! The light experiment is now finished, also the theoretical parts.
Laue[4]
had contested, you know, that the bending of light is required by the undulatory the-
ory, and I also had to concede that my proof was faulty. Now, however, I believe I
have been able to offer a really precise proof, which will appear as an addendum to
the
publication.[5]
The importance of the subject makes me prefer that the matter
be thoroughly gone over as critically as possible.
As regards the Figaro article, I would be willing to give you authorization for a
denial, if you procured the article for me and I saw that an injustice had been done
by
it.[6]
Students really are in great need. But their political attitude and that of the
professors, mainly toward the government, appears to me very unfortunate, indeed
foolish. For the men who are now bearing the burden of government are not to
blame for the current difficult circumstances but precisely those who are voicing
the loudest criticism. In my opinion, for a leveling of the opposing sides it would
be propitious if the entire student association held regular meetings at which the
adherents of all the parties gave speeches, under strict preservation of certain con-
ventions. In Anglo-Saxon countries this institution has proved to be politically
highly worthwhile, also in that young people are prepared for participation in pub-
lic life.
Thank God that no affair is being made out of that silly article in the Schau-
bühne. But you will surely understand that under such circumstances one does lose
one’s enthusiasm for such public appearances. You can believe me, my direct per-
sonal activities abroad have always contributed toward reengaging old traditions of
friendly relations without my ever having sacrificed my convictions. On the other
hand, there is no changing the fact that in such cases the poisoners do cancel part
of the good effect by distortions and lies. This happens throughout the world, also
over here. Besides, I am so remote from politics that it could not separate us, even
with such different views as ours. In the end, each of us is convinced of the honest
stance of the other, so that alone prevents the possibility of bitterness arising.
What I particularly admire about you is how you raised such a large number of
young talents out of the bare
earth.[7]
This is something entirely unique. You must
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