1 1 2 G E R M A N A N T I - R E L AT I V I S T S
neighborhood of the
He noted that Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted
a value twice as large as Soldner’s (due to the curvature of space-time in the vicinity of the
sun), but failed to mention that the British findings from 1919 were closer to Einstein’s 1915
prediction than to Soldner’s “classical” result. Max von Laue immediately published a re-
buttal of Lenard 1921c, Laue
Laue had emerged as a strong spokesman for relativity. His Laue 1921a was the first text-
book on general relativity written by a physicist for physicists, with the explicit goal to
make the subject accessible to those colleagues not openly hostile to the whole approach.
Laue realized that his book contained nothing that would cause ardent opponents to recon-
sider their position. He explicitly identified them as “a group of, in part, very important men
who have found in Lenard their leading
The anti-relativists’ attitude re-
minded him of Goethe’s vehement rejection of Newtonian optics.
Einstein himself drew a less generous conclusion. In an interview aboard the Rotterdam
before disembarking in New York on 3 April 1921, he apparently said, when “asked about
those who oppose his theory, . . . : ‘No man of culture, of knowledge has any animosity to-
ward my theories. Even the physicists opposed to the theory are animated by political mo-
tives.’ When asked what he meant, he said he referred to anti-Semitic feeling. He would not
elaborate on this subject, but said the attacks in Berlin were entirely
Einstein’s visibility made him an easy target for anti-Semites. The popular literature in-
cluded a booklet by the notorious Theodor Fritsch (1852–1933) entitled EinsteinÊs Fraud-
ulent Teachings (Einsteins Truglehre) (Fritsch 1921), written under the pseudonym F. Ro-
derich-Stoltheim. Fritsch’s publishing house, the Hammer-Verlag, disseminated an abun-
dance of anti-Jewish hate literature. Lenard knew where to turn when he needed such
ammunition. On 3 March 1922, he wrote to Heinrich Class (1868–1953), President of the
Pan-German League (Alldeutscher Verband), asking for material related to Einstein’s sup-
port of Communism and Zionism, to be used by his student Carl Ramsauer (1879–1955) for
a lecture in Danzig. Five days later, Class sent a request for appropriate propaganda material
to the Deutschvölkischer Schutz- und Trutzbund, to the Deutsche Zeitung, and to the Ham-
Early in 1922 the Gesellschaft Deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte announced that Ein-
stein would deliver a plenary address on general relativity at the society’s forthcoming cen-
tennial meeting that autumn in Leipzig. Soon thereafter, anti-relativists began plotting.
Stark protested against the “propaganda of general relativity” and the “dogmatism of quan-
The astronomer Johann Soldner (1776–1833) was probably the first to estimate the size of this
deflection predicted by Newton, obtaining a value of 0.84 seconds of arc, which lies close to the value
of 0.83 seconds of arc derived in Einstein 1911h (Vol. 3, Doc. 23, p. 496).
Lenard 1921c, p. 603. For the debates over Soldner’s work, see Hentschel 1990, pp. 155–159.
„eine Gruppe zum Teil sehr bedeutender Männer, die in Lenard ihren Wortführer gefunden
hat.” Laue 1921a,p. v. Even reporters had to be on their toes. When the Frankfurter Zeitung published
an article comparing Soldner’s work with Einstein’s (Frankfurter Zeitung, 6 November 1921, Morn-
ing Edition, p. 1), Laue quickly took them to task (Frankfurter Zeitung, 18 November 1921, Morning
Edition, p. 1).
New York Times, 3 April 1921, pp. 1 and 13.
See Hentschel 1990, pp. 140–141, Kirsten and Treder 1979, p. 145.