2 2 8 T H E J E W I S H QU E S T IO N
receive credits toward a degree. The Ministry approved the request in March 1920, an event
that was duly noted in a Jewish newspaper under the title “University Courses for
By spring 1920, Einstein had concluded that resolving the Jewish Question was a matter
of fostering a sense of pride in one’s Jewish identity, rather than defending against anti-
Semitism. Stooping to defend was in itself a concession to the normative authority of the
anti-Semite. In a pungent reference to this behavior, Einstein claimed that it was “a Jewish
weakness . . . always and anxiously to try to keep the Gentiles in good
embracing the Zionist position in his “confession” (Einstein 1920h [Doc. 37]), Einstein
turned his back once and for all on the assimilationists and their main organization, the CV.
The issue continued to rankle in this organization, however. More than ten years later, in
1931, its business officer lamented the damage that had been done to the CV with the “con-
fession” and placed the blame for the “leak” of Einstein’s personal letter on “Zionist-friend-
ly circles.” The letter, he went on, had only served to heighten inter-Jewish
CV officer was speaking of the tension between the two factions in German Jewry, but he
might also have been talking about the tension within Einstein himself. That this had not
been completely dispelled in the days before writing the “confession” is evident from the
contradictory tone of Docs. 34 and 35. Whatever the reasons for that contradiction, howev-
er, the “confession” provides a capstone to Einstein’s initiation into the Jewish Question.
Einstein summarized this position when he pointed out that “we Jews need a revival of the
feeling of community in order to preserve or rather regain a dignified existence. I see in
Zionism the only effort which leads us closer to this
Before following Einstein to America in spring 1921 and discussing some themes that are
common to the second set of documents, a short description of Einstein’s personal interac-
tion with two Zionists between late 1918 and spring 1920 is called for. As mentioned
earlier, next to nothing is known about the initial connection between Einstein and the
[32]The term employed in Einstein and Leopold Landau to Hans Helfritz, 19 February 1920, is
“courses of Berlin university professors accredited by the state” (“staatlich zugelassene Lehrgänge
Berliner Universitätslehrer”); Konrad Haenisch to Leopold Landau, 8 March 1920, provided the
positive response; and the title of the article in Jüdische Pressezentrale, 23 April 1920, is “Hoch-
schulkurse für Juden.”
[33]“eine jüdische Schwäche . . . , stets angstvoll die Gojims bei guter Laune halten zu wollen”;
Einstein to Felix Frankfurter, 28 May 1921.
[34]See Alfred Wiener to Michael Traub, 27 August 1931. Differences between the CV and the Zi-
onists tended to pale in the late 1920s and early 1930s as anti-Semitism gained in virulence. But even
as early as 1920, the CV left its members free to participate in a fund organized by the Zionists, the
Palestine Foundation Fund (Keren Hayesod). See Jewish Correspondence Bureau (Berlin), 19 No-
vember 1920, p. 2. For more on this fund, see section VI.
[35]“dass wir Juden zur Erhaltung bezw. Wiedergewinnung eines würdigen Daseins einer Wieder-
belebung des Gemeinschaftsgefühls dringend bedürfen. In dem Zionismus sehe ich die einzige Be-
strebung, welche uns diesem Ziele näherführt.” Einstein to Heinrich York-Steiner, 19 November
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