I N T R O D U C T I O N T O V O L U M E 9 x l i i i
Judaism in Berlin, the founding of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and other
humanitarian matters, such as ending the blockade of Russia and freeing political
In September and October 1916, Einstein had discussed the issue of German war
atrocities with H. A. Lorentz, who, at that time, introduced Einstein to an effort ini-
tiated by Jean Massart to establish a mixed German-Belgian commission to inves-
tigate alleged atrocities committed by German troops in Belgium and in Lille,
France, during the first phase of the war (Vol. 8, Doc. 269). In April 1919, Einstein,
together with five other German civilians, joined a commission to investigate and
document accusations against Germany’s conduct of the war. The goal was to ed-
ucate the German people and counteract the mentality of revenge against the Allies
that seemed to be growing in Germany (Docs. 28 and 36). Lorentz declined to par-
ticipate directly in this commission, but offered to collect documentary material
and to discuss the matter with various colleagues in France and Belgium (Docs. 34
and 76). A few months later, a first version of the commission’s findings was pub-
lished in a booklet entitled Lille. Einstein had not had an opportunity to review the
final text, even though he was listed as
This version elicited sharp dis-
approval from Einstein, who requested the pamphlet’s withdrawal from circulation
and even urged a colleague to destroy existing copies (Docs. 108 and 163). He dis-
agreed with the book’s introduction, which takes a defensive tone on behalf of Ger-
many. The book reproduced original German wartime documents about the occu-
pation of the Lille area that deal with sanitary measures taken by the German
military, primarily against prostitutes and their threat to the general health of the
occupied French population and to that of the German troops. These documents,
however, did not address the more serious and by then well-known charges con-
tained in French documents that were part of the the protest statement drafted dur-
ing the war by the intellectuals of Lille, although this protest statement was includ-
ed. The documents described arrests of civilians, deportations, a forced march of
ten thousand women, and other similar war crimes. By early 1920, a second version
of the Lille
without Einstein’s name but published with his consent, en-
countered hostility (Doc. 256). This version offered a deeper analysis of deporta-
tions, house searches of scholars, theft at scientific institutes, the use of children
and the elderly in the line of fire, and the taking of hostages. While harshly critical
of the German military’s violations during the war, Einstein assigned blame even-
handedly, considering all former combatants to be partly guilty.
In autumn 1919, Einstein expressed his opinion that exclusion of German schol-
ars from international meetings might teach them the “virtue of modesty” (Doc. 80)
and that this period of postwar hardship “would be salutary for the internal
Previous Page Next Page