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70. “The Plight of German Science. A Danger for the
Dated 21 December 1921
Published 25 December 1921
IN: Neue Freie Presse, 25 December 1921, Morgenblatt, p. .
The grand creator of the theory of relativity addresses an appeal
to the Austrian public to rescue science.
Berlin, December 21
The German-speaking countries are threatened by a danger that needs to be pointed
out emphatically by those who know it. The economic distress that goes with the
heavy blows of political fate does not fall equally hard on everybody. Especially
hard hit are institutions and persons whose material existence depends directly on
the state, among them the scientific institutions and researchers upon whose work
rests not only the economic prosperity but also, to a large part, the cultural standing
of Germany and Austria.
To recognize the full gravity of the situation, one has to be aware that in times
of distress people care only for the needs of the moment.
One pays for the labor that directly creates material value. However, a science
that does not want to wither away must not focus on immediate practical results.
The insights and methods created by science usually serve practical purposes only
in an indirect way and often only for future generations; but if we neglect science
we will later lack the scientific workers who, by virtue of their open-minded vision
and their judgment, are able to find new economic means or can adapt to new situ-
If scientific research wilts, the intellectual life of the nation breaks down and,
with it, numerous possibilities of future development. This must be prevented. As
the development of foreign affairs now causes a weakening of state powers, it be-
comes an obligation of the economically stronger citizens to lend their hand in pre-
venting scientific life from withering away.