D O C U M E N T 1 0 2 S E P T E M B E R 1 9 1 9 1 5 3
Prinzip nicht abgeneigt, denselben anzunehmen. Jedoch meint er, dass er noch
nützlicher als auswärtiges Mitglied mit Sitz in Leiden wäre und mit der Aufgabe,
die jungen Russen, welche im Auslande studieren, zu beraten und überhaupt zwi-
schen der russischen und westeuropäischen Wissenschaft zu vermitteln. Übrigens
ist keine Rede davon, dass er nach Russland übersiedelt, bevor sich die dortigen
Verhältnisse vollkommen konsolidiert haben.
Indem ich die durch meinen Brief verursachten Inkommoditäten zu verzeihen
bitte, verbleibe in aufrichtiger Verehrung Ihr ganz ergebener
Paul Epstein
ALS. [10 554].
[1]In an interview of 18 December with Kurt Joël in Berlin, published in Neues Wiener Journal a
week later, Einstein dismissed the false rumor that he will accept a call to the university soon to be
founded in Jerusalem, stating that he does not even speak Hebrew (see entry of 18 December 1919 in
Calendar and, in the same context, Julius Berger to Hugo Bergmann, 15 October 1919, IsJCZA, Z3/
The decision to establish the Hebrew University had been taken at the 11th Zionist Congress held
in Vienna in 1913. Its initiators envisaged the university as a “national university” for the Jewish peo-
ple and it was considered one of the most important projects of the Zionist Organisation, based in
London. The issue of whether potential faculty members of the university needed to have a command
of Hebrew was much debated among its planners. Chaim Weizmann, president of the English Zionist
Federation and member of the Smaller Actions Committee of the Zionist Organisation, cited the
“state of the Hebrew language” as one of the reasons to focus first on the creation of research institutes
at the planned university. Many of the potential faculty members did not speak any (or sufficient) He-
brew, and scientific terminology in Hebrew had not yet been properly developed (see Lavsky 2000,
p. 125, and Weizmann’s “Note on the University Project,” submitted to the Zionist Organisation and
to the Advisory Committee [on the University], 22 January 1919, IsJCZA, Z4/25043). Furthermore,
due to the controversy of 1912 (known as the Sprachenstreit), as to whether physics and mathematics
would be taught in German or Hebrew at the Technion (the planned technological institute in Haifa),
the Zionist Organisation determined in advance that a condition for its involvement in the establish-
ment of the Hebrew University would be that the teaching language would be Hebrew (see Kolatt
2000, p. 64).
[2]Epstein was in Munich at the beginning of the war. He was regarded an “enemy alien” and was
interned briefly as a “civil prisoner.” He was released as a consequence of Arnold Sommerfeld’s inter-
vention on his behalf. For the duration of the war he was allowed to live privately in Munich, where
he had access to facilities allowing him to carry out research and publishing, but was not permitted to
leave Germany (see NAS Biographical Memoirs 1974, p. 128, and Doc. 5, note 9).
[3]Epstein had left his savings behind in Russia when he left for Germany in 1910. These were
“nationalized” by the Soviets following the Russian Revolution in 1917 (see transcript of CPIT Oral
History Project Interview with Paul Epstein 1965–1966, p. 93). For the winter semester of 1920/21,
Epstein received 3,500 francs from the University of Zurich (Erziehungs-Direktion des Kantons
Zürich, 20 July 1920, CPIT, Epstein Papers, file 10.4). In April 1920, Edgar Meyer pointed out that
Epstein may be lost to the university “due to the poor foreign exchange rates” (“[w]egen der
schlechten Valutaverhältnisse”; see Meyer to Dean Max Wehrli, 26 April 1920, SzZU, ALF, Theoret.
Physik 1918–21).
[4]Edgar Meyer; Richard Bär (1892–1940) was Assistent in physics at the University of Zurich and
working with Felix Ehrenhaft in Vienna in winter semester 1919/20; Fridolin Luchsinger (1894–?),
probably a graduate student in Meyer’s department, gave lectures in the physics section of the Swiss
Natural Science Society meeting on 8 September (see SNG Verhandlungen 1920, pp. 78–84).
[5]Nine of the fifteen lectures in the physics section were presented by individuals from Zurich
(SNG Verhandlungen 1920, pp. 78–88).
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