1 2 4 D O C . 1 4 N E E D F O R N AT I O N A L A S S E M B LY
Ideal hoch halten. Möge es ihnen gelingen, uns aus den ernsten Schwierigkeiten
herauszuführen, in die wir durch die Sünden und Halbheiten ihrer Vorgänger
AD. [28 001]. The document consists of two unnumbered pages. Page numbers are here provided in
the margin in square brackets. A translation appears in Nathan, O., and Norden 1960, pp. 25–26,
where the document is incorrectly identified as the text of Einstein’s speech to radical students. The
German version, Nathan, O., and Norden 1975, pp. 44–45, repeats the misidentification.
Dated by the references to the meeting in Vossische Zeitung and Berliner Tageblatt.
Einstein’s speech was one of a number made at a public meeting of the Bund “Neues Vaterland”
(BNV) on 13 November. The meeting was devoted to a discussion of the need for “The Legislative
National Assembly” (“Die gesetzgebende Nationalversammlung”). More than a thousand people
attended in the upper hall of the Spichernsäle in Berlin (see Vossische Zeitung, 13 November 1918,
Morning Edition, p. ), and Berliner Tageblatt, 14 November 1918, Morning Edition, p. ).
Disbanded in February 1916, the BNV had been reconstituted at the end of September 1918 (see
Max Planck to Einstein, 26 October 1918 [Vol. 8, Doc. 640], note 1). A brief account of the BNV’s
early wartime aims is provided in Einstein to Romain Rolland, 22 March 1915 (Vol. 8, Doc. 65),
In November 1918, the BNV presented a declaration of purpose and goals, drawn up by a work-
ing committee (Arbeitsausschuß), of which Einstein was a member. Comparing itself to the Fabian
Society, the organization called for “working together in the construction of a German socialist repub-
lic on a democratic foundation and beyond that in the great task of international reconciliation” (“an
dem Aufbau der deutschen sozialistischen Republik auf demokratischer Grundlage und darüber hin-
aus an dem großen Werke der Völkerversöhnung mitzuarbeiten”). The organization saw its particular
mission in contributing to the free development of the individual “on the basis of genuine intellectual
and moral culture” (“auf der Grundlage wahrhafter geistiger und sittlicher Kultur”; Mitteilungen des
Bundes Neues Vaterland, Neue Folge Nr. 1, November 1918, p. 11).
Sailors’, soldiers’, and workers’ councils were formed in a number of major cities during the first
week of November 1918 after a naval mutiny at Kiel sparked the revolution. On 10 November, a pro-
visional national executive authority, the Council of People’s Deputies, consisting of three members
of the Majority Socialists (SPD) and three of the Independent Socialists (USPD), was confirmed in
office by the assembled Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils of Berlin.
Einstein feared the growing rift between a majority in support of parliamentary democracy and
the radical wing of the USPD and the Spartacists, both of whom favored a Council democracy (see
Einstein et al. to Ludwig Quidde, 15 November 1918 [Vol. 8, Doc. 655], note 3) and the dictatorship
of the proletariat.
Elections for a National Assembly were held on 19 January 1919, with the three center-left par-
ties, that unequivocally supported a parliamentary government, capturing more than 75% of the vote.
Unreserved recognition of the leadership of the SPD did not imply any programmatic loyalty on
Einstein’s part. True to the BNV manifesto, which rejected adherence to any political-party platform
(see Mitteilungen des Bundes Neues Vaterland, Neue Folge Nr. 1, November 1918, p. 11), Einstein
denied his membership in the Demokratische Partei some days later (see entry of 16 November 1918
in Vol. 8, Calendar, pp. 1029–1030). Nor did he at this time embrace the idea of a planned economy
(see Doc. 16, especially note 4).
A year later Einstein had to defend himself against exaggerated claims made about his political
leanings: “In various newspapers I am portrayed as an emphatic Communist and anarchist, obviously
due to confusion with someone who has a similar name. Nothing is farther from my mind than anar-
chist ideas. I do advocate a planned economy, which cannot, however, be carried out in all firms, and
in this sense I am a socialist” (“Da werde ich in einigen Blättern als ausgesprochener Kommunist und
Anarchist geschildert, offenbar infolge einer Verwechslung mit einem Namensvetter. Nichts liegt mir
ferner als anarchistische Ideen. Wohl trete ich für eine Planwirtschaft ein, die sich aber nicht für alle
Betriebe durchführen läßt, und in diesem Sinne bin ich Sozialist”). At the same time, he reiterated that
he was not affiliated with any party (see interview of 18 December 1919 in Neues Wiener Journal,