4 1 4 D O C U M E N T 4 3 6 D E C E M B E R 1 9 2 6 436. To Heinrich Zangger [Berlin,] 21 December 1926 Dear Friend Zangger, You reported to me the fact that Mr. Besso, expert at the Office of Intellectual Property in Bern, is in danger of being removed from his position due to complet- ing too few documents. You asked my opinion about Besso’s suitability for his job.[1] I am pleased to respond to this question because, as a colleague of Mr. Besso for years, I am well aware of his professional and personal traits. Besso’s strength is extraordinary intelligence and unlimited dedication to his professional and moral obligation his weakness is too little decisiveness. This ex- plains why his outward success in life shows no relationship to his brilliant capa- bilities and his extraordinary knowledge in the fields of technology and pure science. It also explains why too few files in the office bear his name. Everyone in the office knows that they can get advice from Besso in difficult cases he compre- hends uncommonly quickly the technical and legal side of every patent matter and gladly helps his colleagues to quick completion, by delivering, so to speak, the in- sight to the affair, while the others provide the will or decisiveness. However, when he himself has to complete something, the lack of decisiveness is inhibiting. This creates the tragic situation that one of the most valuable workers in the office, whom I would characterize in many situations as virtually irreplaceable, must out- wardly give the impression of a lack of usefulness.[2] My opinion is therefore that Besso performs extremely valuable consultative ac- tivity and that his removal from the office would be a serious mistake. Even more, his technical-legal knowledge[3] and his judgment are so exceptional that, in the in- terest of the state, one can only regret that these abilities do not find use in a more important position than in the formal cleaning up of patent documents. He could be, for example, an expert of extraordinary value in the assessment of patent ap- peals and in actual patent law (judicial) decisions, if he only had to illuminate the case from a factual standpoint—and someone else wrote the document. That is how it usually transpires in the office. In any case, I would consider it a serious mistake if he were removed from civil service. With the distinctive character of the man described, this would only result in the fact that a significant talent would be forced to lie idle. You may make use of this letter at your discretion. Let us hope it will contribute to the man retaining his sphere of activity. Warm regards, your A. Einstein
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