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tell him that your defense was directed not at scholarly critics but only at the
presumptive aggression of
comrade in arms and that upon his request you
would state this in public, his anger will surely be
Forgive me for trying to occupy you again with this distasteful slough. But you
will approve of my motive.
See you soon! Yours,
A. Sommerfeld
148. To Marcel Grossmann
[Berlin,] 12 September 1920
Dear Grossmann,
This world is a strange madhouse. Currently, every coachman and every waiter
is debating whether relativity theory is correct. Belief in this matter depends on po-
litical party
Most amusing, though, is the Guillaume contest
For in it, someone using scientific jargon has been serving the
most pitiful nonsense to the illustrious experts in the field for years on end, and this
with impunity, without being
Thus one sees quite clearly how the
judgments and values prevailing among the flock of scholarly sheep rest on the nar-
row foundation of a few discerning minds. Refutation is not such an easy matter,
though, when one is not even in a position to understand the other’s assertions. I
took every trouble: I thought about it, corresponded with Guillaume for a long
but met with nothing but mathematical symbols devoid of any sense. A fac-
tual sparring is absolutely unthinkable; rather, one can only state an opinion. I en-
close one for the Archives with this
You ask me in your moody way: “Are you still not ripe for Zurich yet?”
is how matters stand: on a personal level, it’s wonderful for me here. My most im-
mediate colleagues are genuinely welcoming and friendly. The Ministry attends to
my needs. There is no lack of truly selfless friends, either. But it is exceedingly hard
for me to support my family in Zurich; it would have long been impossible if un-
usual circumstances, which may not last particularly long, had not come to my
I do not consider transplanting my children to Germany
So it could
be that for these external reasons I must think of leaving my present position. I
dread it, though, because desperate efforts will be made to keep me here, not so
much because they want me personally as well as my brain, but more because I
have become an idol due to the clamor in the
The role I play is similar to
that of a saint’s relics that a cathedral absolutely has to have. My departure would
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