7 0 D O C U M E N T 8 7 M A R C H 1 9 2 1
Wherever your steps take you, my affection for you will follow. As long as I have
known you, all your actions have always sprung from the nobleness of human
nature and the kindness of your heart. I feel this so strongly that it is difficult for
me to play Antonio in Goethe’s Tasso and, as against your benevolent humanity,
speak of the ties that bind each of
Nor would I do so, if I were not convinced
that I was helping you by it. But I know deep down that, as one gets older, the days
do come when tradition and customs, and all that enables stable order in life, will
show their emotional force, and I do not want to have the man who is so dear to me
later say that he embarked on a path inevitably strewn with painful conflicts, with-
out having been warned by his friend.
If you travel to America at a moment when the new president is delaying the con-
sultations on the law through which the peace between the United States and Ger-
many is to be declared,[5] if you travel with English friends of Zionism at a moment
when the sanctions are exposing more starkly than ever the contrast between
England and
then you are publicly proclaiming before the whole world that
you do not want to be anything but a Swiss, who by coincidence has his residence
I beg you to consider whether you really want this proclamation
now. Now is a time when belonging to Germany is an act of martyrdom. Do you
really want such a demonstration of personal alienation at this moment? People’s
need for profundity has deservedly crowned you and has lent significance to your
commissions and omissions as were formerly attributed only to the dealings of
princes. Whatever you do is not done only with the effect you yourself intend.
The English and Belgians want to divest the name Albert Einstein of the German
character that was hitherto attached to it. If you permit them to do so, German Jews
will have to suffer for it.
For the whole world you are today the most important of all German Jews. If at
this moment you ostensibly fraternize with Englishmen and their friends, then peo-
ple here at home will regard this as evidence of the disloyalty of
So many
Jews fought in the war, died, or became impoverished by it without complaint,
because they considered it their duty. Their lives and deaths did not eradicate anti-
Semitism, but reduced it to being regarded as odious and disgraceful among those
who care about the honor and greatness of our country.[9] Do you want to sweep
aside so much bloodshed and suffering by German Jews with your conduct? And
what do you gain by going on this journey now, instead of delaying it by a year, and
waiting for more peaceful relations among the nations? You will succeed, perhaps,
that the university in Jerusalem be established one year earlier, but you very cer-
tainly sacrifice the narrow ground on which rest the livelihoods of academic teach-
ers and students of the Jewish faith at German
Previous Page Next Page