D O C . 5 7 H O W I B E C A M E A Z I O N I S T 4 2 9
Published in Jüdische Rundschau, 21 June 1921, pp. 351–352. In the following issue—Jüdische
Rundschau (28 June 1921), p. 358—the editors point out that they have neglected to mention that the
article “was not written by him [Einstein] personally, that it was an interview, which he granted to the
representative of the Jewish Correspondence Bureau in New York. The text communicated to us by
the JCB in this form was submitted to Prof. Einstein by our editors and approved by him with a num-
ber of emendations” (“nicht von ihm persönlich geschrieben ist, sondern daß es sich um ein Interview
handelt, welches er dem Vertreter des J.C.B. in New York gewährt hat. Der uns vom J.C.B. in dieser
Form übermittelte Text wurde von unserer Redaktion Herrn Prof. Einstein vorgelegt und von ihm mit
einigen Aenderungen approbiert”). An English-language translation, with some emendations but pre-
sumably based on the German-language original that is not preserved, appeared 17 June 1921 in The
Jewish Chronicle, p. 16, with the title “Jewish Nationalism and Anti-Semitism. Their Relativity.” Sig-
nificant variations between the German-language text and the English-language text are noted.
[1]This document is dated by the fact that it was composed before Einstein departed from America
on 30 May 1921 (see note 11).
[2]For accounts of Einstein’s own experience in German schools, see Kayser 1930, pp. 29–40, and
Vol. 1, “Albert Einstein—Beitrag für sein Lebensbild,” pp. lviii–lxiv.
[3]“Bewegung” at this point in the text is translated as “disease” in The Jewish Chronicle; where
“‘Wissenschaft’ des Antisemitismus” appears, it has been translated as “‘culture’of anti-Semitism”
in The Jewish Chronicle.
According to Einstein, whereas intellectuals were the bearers of anti-Semitism, it was fear among
“the primitive and the uneducated” of those who are different that provided the reservoir of hatred
(see Doc. 35). A year and a half earlier, he had singled out the educated classes as the guilty party (see
Einstein to Paul Ehrenfest, 4 December 1919). Nineteenth-century intellectual antecedents for a Ger-
man “‘culture’ of anti-Semitism” and its leading advocates are discussed in Reichmann 1970, pp.
[4]For a discussion of the ambivalent attitude of members of the Russian intelligentsia, such as the
populists, to the first wave of anti-Semitic pogroms in the 1880s, see Haberer 1992, pp. 107–110.
Einstein’s assessment is more relevant to a later period, after the Beilis ritual murder case that opened
in 1911 to general indignation. “With the exception of the rightist parties, all [Russian] factions from
conservative Octobrists to radical Bolsheviks were lined up against the government,” which spared
no effort in prosecuting the innocent Mendel Beilis (see Greenberg 1965, p. 91).
[5]For an assessment that confirms Einstein’s view that Jewish economic influence was exagger-
ated, see Niewyk 2001, chap. 2, in which the significant role that Jews played in the cultural life of
Weimar Germany is also emphasized.
[6]Where “nationalen Eigenart” appears in the text, it is translated as “national entity” in The
Jewish Chronicle. Einstein’s opinion that even Gentiles who were not anti-Semitic “instinctively
sensed that Jews did not belong with them” reflects a common Zionist perception of the Jew’s lack of
a place in German society (see Niewyk 2001, p. 128).
[7]In the 1920s, Jews in Great Britain and Germany constituted just under one percent of each
country’s general population. For a comparison of anti-Semitism in England and Germany in the early
twentieth century, see Holmes 1979, chap. 14.
[8]The platform of the German Socialists (SPD) was based on the “conviction that anti-Semitism
was an effective right-wing tool to undermine support for the Weimar Republic”; Niewyk 1971, p. 54.
For the SPD’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism, see Niewyk 1971, chap. 3; for its underestimation of
hatred against Jews as a political factor, see chap. 9.
[9]“Instinkten” in the text is translated as “ill-feeling” in The Jewish Chronicle.
Einstein makes explicit the linkage between instinctive anti-Semites among “the primitive and the
uneducated” and those elites that exploit anti-Jewish sentiments for political gain (see note 3).
[10]The phrase “die Reaktion der Nichtjuden darum viel geringer ist” does not appear in the
English-language version.
[11]The editor’s note indicates that Einstein gave the interview on which this article is based in the
period between 2 April, when he disembarked in New York, and 30 May, when he departed for
Previous Page Next Page