1 0 2 G E R M A N A N T I - R E L AT I V I S T S
opponents. His unusual animosity caused alarm among friends and foes alike. It also set the
stage for a dramatic encounter in Bad Nauheim one month later, when Lenard and Einstein
debated the merits of general relativity face-to-face (Einstein et al. 1920 [Doc. 46]). In this
heated atmosphere, cooler heads prevailed only momentarily. Max Planck and other pro-
relativists were unable to restore cordial relations within the German physics community,
which emerged from this meeting deeply divided. By late 1919, Einstein had achieved na-
tional and international fame thanks to the British eclipse expeditions. In the wake of the
Berlin and Bad Nauheim meetings of 1920, however, his name and work became a focal
point for an increasingly acrimonious and polarized German public opinion.
Historians have argued that it was Einstein, and not his critics, who first raised the issue
of anti-Semitism in
They refer to Einstein’s explicit mention of anti-Semitic under-
currents in the anti-relativists’ attacks in Einstein 1920f (Doc. 45): “I have good reason to
believe that there are other motives behind this undertaking than the search for truth. (Were
I a German nationalist, with or without swastika, rather than a Jew of liberal internationalist
bent . . . ).” However, the relevant prehistory discloses that Einstein’s caustic reply to his
two principal critics came only after a long string of
Einstein’s assessment
of the atmosphere at the Berlin meeting played a significant role in his subsequent reaction.
Gehrcke’s long series of critiques of Einstein’s theory had already begun in
1913, he suggested that relativity owed its success largely to a propaganda effort. He called
the “classical theory of relativity” a mixture of mutually contradictory premises and an in-
teresting case of “mass suggestion” in
Max Born immediately countered that the
logical consistency of the theory of relativity could in fact be proved by means of
Minkowski’s four-dimensional space-time
Gehrcke and Einstein attended the Wednesday physics colloquium organized by Hein-
rich Rubens (1865–1922), Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Berlin.
The sessions of 20 and 27 May 1914 were devoted to discussions of the theory of relativity.
These apparently gave Gehrcke an opportunity to ask Einstein for an account of the clock
paradox and the relativity of time: a clock B set in motion with respect to a synchronized
clock A at rest in an inertial frame will slow down. Moreover, if clock B travels along a
closed path and returns to join clock A, then clock B will indicate that less time has elapsed
[4]Elton 1986, p. 100; Hentschel 1990, pp. 133–134; Goenner 1993, pp. 111–112.
[5]Einstein 1920f (Doc. 45), p. 345. Arnold Berliner, (1862–1942), editor of Die Naturwissen-
schaften had earlier tried to persuade Einstein to reply to his critics by writing a sequel to Einstein
1918k (Doc. 13). See Arnold Berliner to Einstein, 19 August 1920.
[6]Gehrcke 1911a was criticized immediately by Grünbaum 1911. Gehrcke replied in Gehrcke
[7]Gehrcke 1913. He leveled this charge in print already as editor of Drude 1912, p. 470, published
after Drude’s death. He likened this “mass suggestion” to the furor caused in France by N-rays, a bo-
gus form of radiation discovered by researchers in Nancy in 1903 (Nye 1980).
[8]Born 1913, pp. 93–94, also referred to the more intuitive model of the special theory of relativity
set forth in Cohn 1911.
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