3 0 D O C . 3 4 M A Y 1 9 1 9
This is the only way in which I can perhaps be of service to philosophy. Cobbler,
stick to your last!
I find your
very enjoyable and intend to absorb it bit by bit. I find in it a
manner of looking at things that is very close to my own. Poincaré too is closely
related to you. Study has treated him quite badly by pinning him down on a truly
superficial comment about the practical significance of Euclidean geometry. Poin-
caré’s expositions on the place of geometry within the whole scientific system ap-
pear to me to be considerably more profound than
In heartily wishing you happier days, I am with cordial regards, yours very truly,
34. From Hendrik A. Lorentz
Haarlem, 4 May 1919
I read your description of the plan you devised with a few like-minded men with
avid interest, and I heartily hope that your project can be realized and that it will,
in this way, contribute toward gradually ameliorating the current vehement bitter-
You are surely under no illusion that your endeavor will in any way be easy.
A major difficulty lies in the fact that this step is being taken only now; at a time
when Germany was still victorious, it could have been more successful. Nonethe-
less, it is in any case of great value to do whatever is possible now.
As regards practical implementation, it is surely clear that it will sometimes be
difficult for a commission composed of private individuals to agree on conclusions
that are convincing to all. Only when a commission invested with the requisite au-
thority can conduct a legal on-site investigation would it be possible to establish
many of the facts beyond any doubt.
This will be impossible for your commission and it will have to limit itself to col-
lecting already published
and testimonies by credible persons and, after
careful verification, pass judgment to the best of its knowledge. Obviously even
this can be very useful and helpful.
For the time being it does not seem appropriate for me to be among the judges;
I do not know whether this would be in the interest of the cause and it would cer-
tainly also take up too much of my working time and effort. But I shall be very glad
to try to be of assistance in procuring the necessary information; inasmuch as the
latter must be obtained from countries that suffered during the war, involvement by
intermediaries will be, as you rightly noted, indispensable.