D O C U M E N T 1 5 4 S E P T E M B E R 1 9 2 0 4 3 5
The first part of the session on relativity theory at the meeting of the Gesellschaft Deutscher
Naturforscher und Ärzte in Bad Nauheim took place on the morning of 23 September. Einstein par-
ticipated in the discussion (see Einstein et al. 1920 [Vol. 7, Doc. 46], and Vol. 7, the editorial note,
“Einstein’s Encounters with German Anti-Relativists,” pp. 101–113). He did not join the remainder
of the session on 24 September (see Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 1 October 1920, Evening Edition).
The meeting was the first of its kind after the war. Its main plenary subjects were nitrogen and its
role in nature and society, food supplies, and atomic physics. Some 2,000 participants had registered
and over 480 talks were given, divided over thirty sections, physics constituting one section (see Ver-
handlungen 1921, pp. 288–303, and Tägliche Rundschau, 23 September 1920, Morning Edition; for
the proceedings of the physics section, see Vorträge 1920).
The session on relativity, organized jointly by the Union of German Mathematicians and the Ger-
man Physical Society (DPG), was not scheduled as a plenary session and it was not widely advertised,
reportedly to steer clear of charges of publicizing Einstein and his theory (see Berliner Tageblatt, 20
September 1920, Evening Edition, and Darmstädter Zeitung, 29 September 1920), but arguably also
to limit the attendance, as there was a strong public interest in the debate (see, e.g., Vossische Zeitung,
24 September 1920, Evening Edition). Both reasons would have been prompted by recent events at
the Berlin Philharmonic Hall (see Doc. 111).
For Einstein’s stay in Kiel, see Doc. 149. Other participants at Bad Nauheim may not have
shared Einstein’s opinion, as some accounts raved about the town’s natural beauty, hospitality, and
copious meals (see Frankfurter Zeitung, 28 September 1920, Morning Edition, and Körner 1921).
Einstein’s judgment may be explained by the fact that some of the lectures, including Friedrich von
Müller’s opening address (Müller 1921), despite laying claim to a separation between science and
politics, exhibited strong nationalist and conservative sentiments that were warmly received by the
audience (see, e.g., Vorwärts, 22 September 1920, Morning Edition). Müller’s lecture also announced
that in Bad Nauheim, unlike at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Einstein’s relativity theory would be
addressed objectively, as its “brilliant creator” (“genialer Schöpfer”) deserved (see Müller 1921,
p. 17, and Doc. 131). Furthermore, in addition to the charged atmosphere surrounding the upcoming
debate on relativity (see, e.g., the recollections of Lise Meitner in her letter to Max Born, 1 June 1948
[UkCC, MTNR 5/2]), tensions in the DPG (see Doc. 147) had led to the ascension of Wilhelm Wien
as its new president. In a meeting on 21 September, he had set out to limit the influence of Berlin phys-
icists. For further background on the Bad Nauheim conference, see Forman 1986.
Elsa Einstein, who had presumably traveled alone to Frankfurt to stay with the Borns and then
went on to Bad Nauheim (see Doc. 149 and its note 3).
Ilse and Margot Einstein; the housekeeper, Anna Hellberg (see Doc. 149, note 14).
Rudolf and Fanny Einstein.
154. To Ilse and Margot Einstein
[Bad] Nauheim [24 September 1920]
Else lässt sich entschuldigen. Sie liegt im Bett und hat
Nerven sind etwas angegriffen, z. Teil durch die Aufregungen wegen der Affäre L.,
die die Kollegen in starke Bewegung
Jetzt muss sie absolute Ruhe haben
und möglichst viel allein sein. Dann fährt sie nach Stuttgart, wenns nicht rasch bes-
sert, zu Ernst Levi ins
Wenn eine eine Reise
können wir noch nach
Küsse von Euerm