x l v i I N T R O D U C T I O N T O V O L U M E 9
London bureau. In mid-October, the German Zionist Julius Berger recommended
that the central office of the Zionist Organisation contact Einstein directly. There-
upon Hugo Bergmann, executive secretary of the Education Department of the Zi-
onist Organisation in London, informed Einstein about the plan to hold a confer-
ence of Jewish scholars, most probably in Switzerland, and asked Einstein whether
he, “whom the world rightly calls the greatest Jewish scholar,” was prepared to ac-
cept an invitation (Doc. 147).
Einstein expressed warm interest in the “new [Jewish] colony in Palestine” and
especially in the planned university. He offered to “do everything in [his] power on
behalf of this cause” and agreed to participate in the conference, “if circumstances
allow” (Doc. 155). Only two days later, Bergmann sent Einstein clippings of the
dramatic headlines of 7 November in the Times of London, announcing the verifi-
cation of the general theory of relativity. To Ehrenfest, Einstein revealed at this time
his main reasons for supporting the cause of the Hebrew University: “This univer-
sity will be a factor in lessening the number of talented Jews, especially those from
Poland and Russia, whose development would otherwise be miserably stunted”
(Doc. 160).
One week later, Bergmann requested that a photograph of Einstein be sent ur-
gently to London as he was “the hero of the day” and “all the newspapers” were
“besieging” them for his picture. By late November, Einstein received the official
invitation to the scholars’ conference on the Hebrew University from Shmarya
Levin, head of the Zionist Organisation’s Education Department in London
(Doc. 179).
In early December 1919, Einstein was inclined to attend the planned conference,
given that his “name, which since the eclipse expedition is in high favor, can be uti-
lized for the cause” (Doc. 207). The same month, he was named a member of a
working committee to generate interest on behalf of the Hebrew university in the
German-speaking countries. While promising to attend the planned conference,
Einstein was nevertheless doubtful of the effectiveness of such meetings, riddled,
in his words, with “too much chatter and useless exhaustion” (Doc. 207). The
scholars’ conference was then suddenly postponed for various reasons, including
poor communication between the Berlin and London bureaus. Members of the Zi-
onist Executive had to remain in Paris for a planned peace conference with Turkey
and would thus be unable to attend, while academics would not be available before
winter break. Einstein continued to stay apprised of the ongoing plans for the uni-
versity and was asked for a contribution to a “propaganda” brochure that would fur-
ther such efforts (Doc. 266).
Previous Page Next Page