D O C . 5 5 I N M Y D E F E N S E 4 1 9
Published in Die Naturwissenschaften 9 (1921): 219. Dated 16 March 1921, published 1 April 1921.
Einstein was informed in late April 1920 that Lucien Fabre (1889–1952), an engineer, poet, and
novelist, was preparing to publish a popular article on relativity in a prominent French journal (see
Paul Oppenheim to Einstein, 24 April 1920). After Einstein declared his willingness to comment on
the manuscript (see Einstein to Paul Oppenheim, 29 April 1920), it was submitted to him in mid-May
(see Lucien Fabre to Einstein, 17 May 1920, and Lucien Fabre to Paul Oppenheim, same date). Fabre
promised to introduce emendations suggested by Einstein and requested of him a brief biography and
preface (see Lucien Fabre to Einstein, 17 July 1920). Fabre acknowledged receipt of the biographical
information but not of the preface. He then fashioned one from what he claimed was a letter from
Einstein to Oppenheim that had been made available to him by Oppenheim (see Lucien Fabre to Paul
Oppenheim, 11 February 1921, and Lucien Fabre to Einstein, 23 February 1921). The preface
appeared on pp. 15 and 16 of Fabre 1921, which was published sometime before the end of February
(see Paul Oppenheim to Einstein, 25 February 1921). Extracts from a purported letter of Einstein’s of
5 July 1920 were appended (Fabre 1921, pp. 17–18).
After being apprised of Fabre’s reputation as a “reactionary and Jew-hater” (“Reaktionär und
Judenhasser”) as well as “phrasemongering fool” (“phrasenreicher Dummkopf”; Maurice Solovine
to Einstein, 28 February 1921), Einstein pointed out privately that “that damned Lucien Fabre had
simply forged my preface, in that, without asking me, he doctored letters that did not even originate
directly with me but from an acquaintance of mine, who had watered them with French politesse”
(“[d]er verd. Lucien Fabre hat einfach mein Vorwort gefälscht, indem er––ohne mich zu Fragen,
Briefe, die nicht einmal direkt von mir stammten, sondern von einem Bekannten von mir mit franzö-
sischer Artigkeit bewässert worden waren, zu einem Vorwort umdokterte”; Einstein to Maurice
Solovine, 8 March 1921, TAU, Albert Einstein Collection). Similar private complaints were made in
Einstein to Maurice Solovine, 19 March and 25 June 1921, both TAU, Albert Einstein Collection.
Publicly, Einstein protested not only in Die Naturwissenschaften, but also to Fabre’s publisher (see
Einstein to M. Payot, 16 March 1921). Some days later, Einstein learned that Fabre had already
published nonsense about his theories in lÊIntransigeant, 31 August 1920, and that he was now claim-
ing that Poincaré was the true discoverer of relativity (see Maurice Solovine to Einstein, 16 March
1921). Einstein declined to protest in this case, arguing that it “violates my sacred principles and
habits” (“verstösst gegen meine geheiligten Prinzipien und Gewohnheiten”) to respond without being
asked directly (see Einstein to Maurice Solovine, 19 March 1921). He thereby implied that the editors
of Die Naturwissenschaften had made just such a request.
In his second edition, Fabre dropped the preface, but not without claiming that Einstein had
disowned his own ideas (see Fabre 1922, pp. 15–16, and Maurice Solovine to Einstein, 20 June 1921).