D O C U M E N T 6 3 F E B R U A R Y 1 9 2 2 8 1
63. To Paul Langevin
27 February 1922
Dear friend Langevin,
When I received your kind letter of
I felt great and pure joy; and
now, one week later, I hesitantly and sadly take up my pen because I cannot accept
the invitation now, as much as I would personally have liked to—even aside from
the cordial feelings of friendship I have for you. You know that I am of the view
that relations between scholars should not suffer from political causes and that con-
cern for the scientific professional community should go above all other consider-
ations. You also know that I am totally internationally minded and the fact that I am
employed by the Prussian Academy of Sciences has had no influence on this
After conscientious reflection, however, I came to the conclusion that
at this moment of political tension my visit to Paris would have more adverse than
My colleagues here are still being excluded from all
international scientific activities and they are of the opinion that our fellow French
professionals are primarily to blame for
I fully appreciate the deeper causes
that led to this attitude. But on the other hand you, too, can imagine that these peo-
ple here, whose sensitivities have been stirred up almost to pathological heights by
the events and experiences of the last few years, would perceive a trip by me to
Paris at this moment as an act of betrayal and would take such offense that very
unpleasant consequences could arise. Even in Paris, unforeseeable complications
threaten. I cannot imagine anything finer than being able to chat comfortably with
you, Perrin, and Madame Curie again in private and to depict the theory of relativity
to your students with a subjective
Yet the greater public and—politics—
have long since taken possession of my theory and my person and have tried to
make both somehow suit their purposes. There would be a considerable number of
people watching out for every candid word I utter, to toss it back at newspaper read-
ers, conveniently
My experiences in this regard in recent times make
this danger appear to me to be very great; the end effect is always hatred and ani-
mosity instead of reason and
I would certainly also be interrogated
about my political opinions regarding Franco-German relations; as I cannot speak
any other way than honestly, my reply would not earn me sympathy either on this
side of the Rhine or on the other.
It is true that I did not hesitate to visit North America, England, and Italy in the
past few years. However, my American voyage concerned the University of
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