4 8 D O C U M E N T 5 5 F E B R U A R Y 1 9 2 1
55. From Paul Ehrenfest
[Leyden,] 21 February 1921
Dear Einstein,
Your trip to Amsterdam depressed me very, very
I hope unjustifiably
so.—I don’t have any right to say anything, of course. And you know how bound-
less my respect is for you. Nor do I forget for a moment that all our actions, seen
from a distance of 25, 50, or 100 years, will look completely different from right
now. But you are making life tough for your contemporary friends.—I don’t know
if—as concerns Holland—you are always aware of what Lorentz and Onnes—I
unfortunately hardly matter, of course—put at stake for you with their reputations
in this
So, you probably think it good that I not write more, because I
don’t even know exactly what kind of caper you specifically made this time again.
[Please do not write me about
Just please, please, please, for Lorentz’s sake:
remember all the lengthy conversations with my two privy-uncles, and also with
me, and be sure not to cause them any worry. You really are like an -particle gone
mad [meschugge], and if you do have to raise dust in all n 1 countries of the world,
do at least stay good as a newborn baby in our nth little land. Even you will be con-
tent, for once, to be able to smoke your little pipe properly somewhere like an
upright bourgeois, without all that dilettanteritis-geseres.—Onnes and I wanted to
grab hold of you by the hair and drag you off to Leyden—but we couldn’t get our
hands on you—Yes, I know—God hear us!—that you are such a “cornerstone [Eck-
stein] of the history of civilization,” with all the typical experiences of corner-

I trust that I’m not making you angry, but please, please, please be good. Gener-
ally—but even downright newborn-baby-good here—so that the hairs of your
friends here don’t go gray, or rather fall out, insofar as they haven’t already fallen
The slip from Methuen that you sent I did receive all right—but it was another
one of your barmy ideas to send
That your America trip isn’t taking place, on one hand, weighs down on my con-
science, of course, but I basically do really believe that it would have been absolute
nonsense if you had gone “for fun.”—As you (and your health!) are, it really is not
good for you to do such a strenuous thing, unless it meant buying peace for later.—
But if I acted wrongly with my meddling—forgive me.
The desire to go to America myself stems (1) from my
(2) because my
favorite brother is there (St. Louis) whom I haven’t seen for 21 years
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