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33. “Uproar in the Lecture Hall”
[Einstein 1920a]
Published 13 February 1920
In: 8-Uhr Abendblatt 73 (Berlin), no. 38, pp. 2 and 3.
A Declaration by Professor Einstein.
“My popular lectures on the theory of relativity were attended not only by students
but also by many individuals who actually were not authorized to attend. For this
reason the student council declared that it would no longer tolerate this. I pointed
out that the large hall has room enough for all who want to listen and that this
should hardly cause any problems. The student council was not satisfied with this
and turned this question in to the rector of the university. The rector sent me a letter
in which he pointed out that according to existing regulations, these individuals
have no right to enter the hall. This is formally correct. I, however, took the point
of view that I find it reprehensible to deny these individuals the right to listen with-
out good reason. Therefore, yesterday, instead of lecturing I began a discussion
with my audience which, however, did not lead to a definite result. Consequently,
I found it necessary to cancel further lectures and declare to the student body that
they could request a refund of their tuition fees. However, I have no intention of
canceling my lectures in general; I plan to resume them in a different form. The lec-
ture hall still has to be determined. Should an incident like yesterday’s occur again,
I will cease my lecturing altogether. What happened yesterday cannot be called a
scandal, even though some remarks that were made demonstrated a certain animos-
ity toward me. Anti-Semitic remarks per se did not occur, but the undertone could
be interpreted that way.”
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