D O C U M E N T 1 8 9 D E C E M B E R 1 9 1 9 2 6 9
In Doc. 175, Ehrenfest requested that Einstein write a short review of Willem Julius’s theory of
the solar atmosphere. Einstein’s interest in the theory went back to 1911, when he first wrote to Julius
(see Einstein to Willem Julius, 24 August 1911 [Vol. 5, Doc. 278]), who had claimed that the solar
redshift could be explained as a consequence of anomalous dispersion of light in the solar atmosphere.
The expression “multilayered issue” (“weitschichtige Sache”) probably refers to the subtle interplay
between dispersion, refraction, and scattering that Julius claimed was responsible for solar phenom-
ena such as sunspots.
Einstein started studying the lectures, Lorentz 1919b and 1919c, before 8 November (see
Leonard S. Ornstein. Ehrenfest had expressed doubts about how helpful he could be in an active
role on behalf of Zionism. Furthermore, he informed the Zionist Organisation of his difficulties in
obtaining a passport, which could preclude his attending the planned conference (see Doc. 175).
The question of whether or not the planned Jewish university in Jerusalem should be separate
from the planned technical university in Palestine was discussed at length in the Zionist movement
(see also Doc. 102, note 1). The cornerstone of the Technion (the Israel Institute of Technology, then
known by its German name Technikum), was laid in 1912 in Haifa. It had originally been envisaged
in 1907 by Paul Nathan, one of the leaders of the Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden. By 1919, the Zion-
ist Organisation saw the Technion’s role as preparing a technological infrastructure in Palestine in
accordance with the needs of the country and also as complementing and assisting the research to be
carried out by the planned Hebrew University (see Lavsky 2000, pp. 128–129).
In September 1919, Constantin Carathéodory (1873–1950), Professor of Mathematics at the
University of Berlin, was invited to Paris by his friend Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos (1873–
1950), the architect of the invasion of Asia Minor after the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire at the
end of World War I, to discuss the founding of a new university in Greece, either in Smyrna (now
Izmir, Turkey) or in Saloniki (Thessaloniki).
Carathéodory was appointed Professor of Analytical and Higher Geometry at the University of
Athens in July 1920, and a month later as organizer of the Ionian University and Professor of Math-
ematics in Smyrna, a new institution whose motto became “Light from the East.” Carathéodory ad-
vocated the combining of engineering and classical studies. For a biography of Carathéodory, see
Georgiadu 2003, especially pp. 137–181. For Einstein’s public statements, which echo similar edu-
cational views, see his interview of 18 December in Calendar.
Ehrenfest asked Einstein to purchase a piano as well as violins for his daughters, Tatiana and
Anna (see also Doc. 204).
Wolfgang Pauli mentioned Einstein’s objection to Hermann Weyl’s theory (see Einstein 1918g
[Vol. 7 Doc. 8]) in his paper (p. 749), but continued to examine Weyl’s work seriously as a possible
rival or successor theory to general relativity. See also Doc. 65.
On 12 November, Max Planck was awarded the Nobel prize in physics for the year 1918 (see
Doc. 169, note 1); on 21 November, Planck’s daughter Emma died during childbirth (see Doc. 184),
as had her twin sister Margarete Fehling née Planck, two years earlier (see Max Planck to Einstein,
26 May 1917 [Vol. 8, Doc. 345]).
In 1916 Planck’s elder son, Karl, had died on the battlefield. The only surviving child was his
younger son, Erwin (1893–1945).
At the jubilee festivities of the University of Rostock (see, e.g., Doc. 184). On the prevalence
of anti-Semitism among academic circles and the educated middle class in imperial Germany, see,
e.g., Niewyk 2001.
On Einstein’s problems with finding suitable accommodations for his terminally ill mother, see
In late October, Heinrich Zangger wrote of the plan to bring Peter Debye to the Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology (Doc. 148). On 4 December 1919, Fritz Haber wrote to Carl H. Becker of the
danger of losing Debye. He urged that, given Debye’s importance for physics, he should be retained
in Germany “in the interest of national science” and that “unusual steps to this effect are warranted”
(“dass sein Verbleiben in Deutschland im Interesse des nationalen Wissenschaftsbetriebes liegt und
ungewöhnliche Schritte rechtfertigt”). He proposed that, as soon as a position for an Ordinarius
became available elsewhere, Robert Pohl should be urged to leave Göttingen, and that Debye should