D O C U M E N T 3 4 M A Y 1 9 1 9 5 5
Dass es mit Deutschland so weit kommen musste wie jetzt, ist wohl sehr traurig.
Uns geht es gut, auch den Kindern und Enkelkindern. Die Zahl der letzteren ist
vor Kurzem vermehrt worden durch die Geburt eines kleinen „de Haas“, und zwar
eines Paten von
Bei Kamerlingh Onnes und Ehrenfest sind Alle
Mit herzlichen Grüssen, auch von meiner Frau, verbleibe ich treulich Ihr
H. A. Lorentz
ALS (NeLR, Arch. 55). [16 469].
A week earlier Einstein had asked Lorentz to join a private commission that would, on the basis
of official documents, evaluate charges made against Germany’s conduct of the war and publish its
results (see Doc. 28).
Sources referenced in the second version of the commission’s publication, Lille, include German
official documents regarding deportations of civilian population on dates ranging from 12 February
1915 to 4 January 1918, with most of these in April 1916 (see Geiger et al. 1920, pp. 20–61).
Aletta Lorentz-Kaiser (1858–1931).
Ernest Solvay (1838–1922), a Belgian chemical industrialist and philanthropist, whom Lorentz
knew well from presiding at the first two Solvay congresses and as member of the international sci-
entific commmittee of the Institut international de physique (IIP), founded and financed by Solvay;
Paul Heger (1846–1925), director of the Brussels Institute of Teaching and Research in the Medical
Sciences (endowed by Solvay in 1891–1895); Emile Tassel, Honorary Professor at the Free Univer-
sity of Brussels. Both Heger and Tassel were members of the administrative commission of the IIP
(see Lorentz 1914).
At this point in the original text Lorentz indicates a phrase he has appended at the foot of the
page: “Sie kennen den Brief, den, unabhängig von dieser Forderung, Planck, im Einverständnis mit
einigen Berliner Kollegen, mir damals hat zukommen lassen.” For Max Planck’s skepticism about the
efficacy of an investigation into war crimes in a letter to Lorentz of 23 October 1916, see Einstein to
Paul Ehrenfest, 24 October 1916 (Vol. 8, Doc. 269), note 2.
Jean Massart (1865–1925), Professor of Botany at the Free University of Brussels, issued an ap-
peal in March 1916 to establish a mixed German-Belgian commission to investigate alleged German
war crimes in Belgium (see Einstein to Paul Ehrenfest, 24 October 1916 [Vol. 8, Doc. 269], note 2).
In 1916, Charles Magnette, the Freemasons’ Grand Master in Belgium, lawyer and member of
the Belgian Senate, urged the German Freemasons to influence the German government to stop the
atrocities. One among the twelve German lodges reported this request to the German government,
which then arrested and imprisoned Magnette (see Grand Orient 1914 and 1920). (On Belgian Free-
masons and their wartime activities, see Brodsky 2004; on the differences between French and Ger-
man Freemasons, particularly regarding pacifism, see Chickering 1975, pp. 130–131, 345, 398.)
Pacifism on the European continent tended to be more secular and less religious than in England,
where the Quakers originated. The majority of German clergy, both Protestant and Catholic, sup-
ported World War I, contributing to the new “Kriegstheologie.” One exception was Martin Rade
(1857–1940), editor of the journal Die christliche Welt, who taught theology at the University of Mar-
burg (see Chickering 1998, pp. 126–129; and, on Rade’s pacifism during World War I, see Rathje
1952, pp. 232–265).
Adriaan K. M. Noyons (1878–1941) was Professor of Physiology at the University of Louvain.
In one of their most notorious acts against civilians during the war, German troops in August–
September 1914 burned Louvain to the ground and force-marched, deported, and even executed
numerous citizens, in retribution for an alleged Belgian uprising against the occupying forces. For a
study of atrocities and accusations in early World War I, see Horne and Kramer 2000.
One reason for caution may have been the continued practice of German military censorship (see
Bund “Neues Vaterland” to the German Foreign Office, 7 May 1919, cited in Mitteilungen des BNV,
4 August 1919, pp. 6–7); Wander de Haas was Lorentz’s son-in-law.
Marc de Haas (1866–1951) was Professor of Physics at the Technical University of Delft.
Einstein did not mention his health problems to Lorentz in Doc. 28, but had mentioned his