3 0 0 D O C . 3 6 S C I E N T I F I C L I T E R AT U R E
Published in Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 4 April 1920, 1st Sunday edition, 2d section, p. .
Citing the ruinous economic consequences of the war, particularly the falling exchange rate of
the mark to the dollar, the editors of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung had asked Swiss intellectuals at home
and abroad to address publicly whether practical measures might be taken to assist Germany and
Austria in obtaining the most essential scholarly literature. They asked, first, whether this could be
done by extending loans for subscriptions to the literature of neutral and Allied countries and, second,
whether scientific societies in the neutral countries could mediate between those of the former bellig-
erent nations (see Eduard Korrodi to Einstein, 23 March 1920). Besides Einstein’s, the responses of
three Swiss nationals are published in this issue.
Though, by April 1920, the exchange rate of the mark to the dollar had actually improved over the
February rate of 100 marks to the dollar—25 times its prewar parity—the cost of living index rose to
more than 10 compared to 1 in 1913 (see Feldman 1993, pp. 5 and 216). Yet Einstein’s salary as a
member of the Prussian Academy, for instance, had barely tripled from 12,900 marks on joining in
1914 (see Prussian Academy of Sciences to Einstein, 22 November 1913 [Vol. 5, Doc. 485]) to 36,000
in the course of 1920 (see Gustav Roethe et al. to Ministry of Education, 16 December 1920, GyBSa,
I. HA, Rep. 76 Vc, Sekt. 2, Tit. 23, Litt. F, Nr. 2, Vol. 14, p. 346 [M]).
The impact on library budgets was devastating. The cost of acquisition of foreign publications had
risen at least fifteenfold compared to prewar costs: where Prussia’s largest library could offer its read-
ers 2400 foreign periodicals a year before the war, by 1920 the number had dropped to 150 (see Prus-
sian State Library Director Adolf von Harnack’s memorandum of February 1920, cited in Zierold
1968, p. 5). In addition, many libraries were forced to sell their most valuable holdings to obtain
foreign exchange. For an analysis of Germany’s economic woes following the November Revolution,
see Feldman 1993, chaps. 3 and 4; for a discussion of the country’s intellectual isolation and the boy-
cott that implemented it, see Karo 1919; Marsch 1994, pp. 35–39; and Schröder-Gudehus 1966, pp.
89–124; for evidence that the boycott was not airtight, see, for example, Deutsche Liga für Völker-
bund to Einstein, 8 July 1920, in which English universities are praised for their campaign to aid Ger-
man libraries, and the following note.
Various measures were advanced and even introduced to redress the situation about the time that
Einstein’s modest suggestion was printed in the Swiss paper. Julius Burghold (1860–1923) of Frank-
furt, founder of the Society of Friends of the Goethe Museum, articulated a plan in December 1919
for a book import-export center to further the commercial book trade, a plan which provoked a lively
discussion in the Prussian Academy of Sciences (see Julius Burghold to Dr. Schmitt, 10 December
1919, enclosed in Julius Burghold to Einstein, 19 April 1920, and Einstein to Julius Burghold, 25
April 1920). A month later, the National Center for Reporting on the Natural Sciences (Reichszentrale
für naturwissenschaftliche Berichterstattung) was set up. Its main contribution was to serve as a na-
tional clearinghouse for the photographic reproduction and dissemination of reprints and books (see
Richter 1972, p. 30, and Schröder-Gudehus 1966, pp. 196–199). Also on the national stage, promi-
nent scientists like Fritz Haber and government ministers such as Friedrich Schmidt-Ott (1860–1956)
and Konrad Haenisch (1876–1925) published appeals that called for concerted support of research by
the state and the business community, pointing the way to the official formation of the Emergency
Society for German Science and Scholarship (Notgemeinschaft der Deutschen Wissenschaft) in Oc-
tober 1920 (see Marsch 1994, pp. 41–46).
As part of an American economic, political, and cultural stabilization program to oppose French
ambitions and to serve as a bulwark against further Bolshevik revolutions, the Rockefeller Foundation
had committed itself to an Emergency Program for Europe (see Marsch 1994, pp. 51–52, 136), which
primarily provided medical literature and supplies to the former Central Powers. In addition, the foun-
dation was considering an appropriation of $100,000 for the aid of German and Austrian universities
(see Carl Beck to Einstein, 28 December 1920).
The prospect of receiving American periodicals in exchange for German ones had been raised in
mid-March at a meeting of the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt (see minutes of its Kuratorium,
10 March 1920, GyBPTB, no. 240.1, vol. 2, p. 161 verso), and a month later Einstein discussed as an
accomplished fact an American-English initiative under Quaker auspices, directed by Everett Skill-
ings of Vermont, to provide scientific literature to Central Europe (see Einstein to Ulrich von Wilamo-
witz-Moellendorff, 19 April 1920, GyGöU, Cod. Ms. Wilamowitz 319, p. 1; Max Planck to Friedrich