1 1 0 D O C . 9 5 L O R E N T Z & I N T E R N A T I O N A L C O O P E R A T I O N 95. Hendrik A. Lorentz’s Activities in Behalf of International Cooperation [Berlin, after 30 November 1927][1] Considering the extensive specialization of work in scientific research brought in with the nineteenth century, it has become rare for individual men in leadership roles in a science to find the energy to perform valuable services to the community in the area of international organization and politics. Not only hard work, insight, and a reputation based on accomplishments are needed for that, but also something that has become rare in our time: independence from national prejudices and ded- ication to the common goals of all. Among my acquaintances, no one else unites all these qualities in such a perfect way as H. A. Lorentz. The wonderful thing about the work of this personality is the following, though. Independent and self-willed personalities, as are especially notable among schol- ars, do not like to bow to the will of others and are mostly averse to allowing them- selves to be guided. But when Lorentz is seated in the presiding chair, an atmosphere of cheerful collaboration always develops, irrespective of how differ- ent the intentions and ways of thinking of the people sitting together there are. The secret to this success is not just a rapid assessment of people and things and a won- derful mastery of speech, but above all this: One feels that Lorentz immerses him- self entirely in the service of the cause and as he works is possessed by the need to serve. Nothing disarms the recalcitrant so much as this. Before the war, Lorentz’s activity in the service of international relations was limited to presiding at physics conferences. The Solvay congresses are worthy of particular mention, the first two of which took place in 1909 and 1912 in Brussels.[2] Then came the European war, which represented the worst conceivable blow to all those persons whose heart’s desire was progress in human relations in the larger arena. During the war, and even more so after it ended, Lorentz dedicated himself to the task of international reconciliation. His efforts were specifically di- rected toward a resumption of thriving and friendly collaboration among scholars and scientific societies.[3] A bystander can hardly imagine how difficult this enter- prise is. The bitterness that accumulated during the war continues to be felt, and many influential men persist in the implacable attitude that they had allowed them- selves to be driven into under the pressure of the circumstances. Lorentz’s effort resembles that of a physician who must administer to an obstinate patient refusing to take the carefully prepared medicine for his own good.
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