2 8 8 D O C . 3 3 U P R O A R I N T H E L E C T U R E H A L L
Fölsing 1993, p. 519), an opinion that was seconded by a liberal newspaper, which recounted “that
the protests were not political and most particularly also not of an anti-Semitic nature” (“daß die
Proteste nicht politischer und besonders auch nicht antisemitischer Art gewesen seien”; Berliner
Tageblatt, 14 February 1920, Morning Edition, p. [2]). A petition signed by almost 300 students of
the university also supports this position. After pleading with Einstein to continue lecturing, the stu-
dents express their regret at “the exaggeration of the incident” (“Aufbauschung des Zwischenfalles”;
Eduard Hertel et al. to Einstein, 19 February 1920). The student council took unerring aim at what it
considered to be the chief culprit. It published a declaration the same week, in which it emphasized
the fragility of the academic community when the daily press, regardless of its political leanings,
attempted through distorted press accounts to exploit events within the university (see Tägliche Rund-
schau, 18 February 1920, Morning Edition, p. [6]).
Having achieved his goal of opening up the lecture series to the public, Einstein had a change of
heart. Two days after the incident, he argued that students should receive preferential treatment after
all, and that the unregistered public be admitted only if there were space available (see Einstein to
Eduard Meyer, 14 February 1920). Einstein was, however, already taking steps to ensure that those
unable to attend lectures at the elite university would not be left out. On 4 February, he began a cycle
of ten evening lectures on mechanics and relativity theory at the Agricultural College (Land-
wirtschaftliche Hochschule) under the auspices of the Volkshochschule Groß-Berlin (see Berliner
Tageblatt, 4 March 1920, Morning Edition, p. [3]). Later in the same month, he proposed to the Min-
istry of Education that “‘courses of Berlin university professors [be] accredited by the state’
(“‘staatlich zugelassene Lehrgänge Berliner Universitätslehrer’ ”). This would enable the approxi-
mately 200 foreign students in Berlin from Eastern Europe, mostly Jews, who were unable to register
at the university, to gain credits toward a degree (see Einstein and Leopold Landau to Hans Helfritz,
19 February 1920). Permission was granted (see Jüdische Pressezentrale Zürich, 23 April 1920, p. 4).
For an account of the difficulties encountered in his studies by one student, a young Pole named Le-
opold Infeld (1898–1968), who later became one of Einstein’s collaborators, see Stachel 1999, pp.
Previous Page Next Page