D O C U M E N T 2 8 4 J A N U A R Y 1 9 2 0 3 8 9
Einstein’s mother was in the last stages of her illness.
Hedwig Born and their children had contracted measles (Einstein/Born 1969, p. 46).
On Born’s lectures on relativity, held for a fee in support of his physics institute, see Einstein/
Born 1969, pp. 46 and 52.
Kasimir Fajans (1887–1975) was Extraordinary Professor of Physical Chemistry at the Univer-
sity of Munich and author of a recent textbook on radioactivity (Fajans 1919).
For a similar comment on Fritz Haber’s character, see Doc. 198.
Later in life Born remarked: “I must have suggested something along these lines in a letter” (“Ich
muß wohl so etwas in einem Briefe vorgeschlagen haben”; see Born 1965, p. 300).
Wolfgang Pauli doubted whether it made sense to speak about the electric field inside an elec-
tron, as Hermann Weyl had done following Gustav Mie’s approach (see, e.g., Weyl 1919a, p. 255),
since there were no test particles to probe the field, and he posed the question whether one should
employ a continuum theory for the field inside an electron at all (see Pauli 1919a, pp. 749–750).
For evidence that Einstein’s interest in a theory involving overdetermination of differential
equations is connected with his desire to save the continuum, see Einstein 1923. That he had consid-
ered the problem previously is shown by his remarks to Born, and in Einstein to Walter Dällenbach,
after 15 February 1917 (Vol. 8, Doc. 299), in which he outlined his view that the problem of the con-
tinuum resides in too multifarious a realm of possibilities for the motion of material points. He
lamented, “[h]ow much have I already toiled in this direction!” (“Wie viel habe ich mich in diesem
Sinne schon geplagt!”). For a detailed discussion of Einstein’s views on the necessity or otherwise of
the continuum in physics, see Stachel 2002, pp. 141–154.
In a time of extreme economic hardship, the military successes of the Russian Red Army in
Poland must have contrasted sharply with Germany’s domestic problems.
See Doc. 282 and Einstein’s declaration on behalf of Georg Friedrich Nicolai, which was
intended for publication in Berliner Tageblatt but was rejected (see Vol. 7, Doc 32, and its descriptive
note). For the recent attacks on Nicolai and their anti-Semitic overtones, see Doc. 282, note 3.
Probably a hint at Molière’s comedy Le médecin malgré lui, 1666. A German translation of select-
ed works by Molière, which includes Der Arzt wider seinen Willen, and belonging to Ilse Einstein, is
in Einstein’s personal library. For another reference to Molière, see Doc. 33.
Another example of Einstein’s ambivalence toward Nicolai is apparent in Einstein’s refusal to par-
ticipate in Nicolai’s planned project of editing and publishing selected writings on political morality
by classical German authors (see, e.g., Vol. 8, Doc. 303).
Georges Clemenceau (1841–1929), French prime minister in 1906–1909 and in 1917–20, was
defeated in the presidential elections of January 1920, after accusations of being insufficiently tough
on Germany, although he had been the chief proponent of the harsh conditions of the Treaty of Ver-
Matthias Erzberger (1875–1921), vice chancellor and finance minister of the new German
republic. As the armistice commissioner of negotiations at the end of the war, he was hated and tar-
geted by rightists as a moderate representative of the Weimar republic (Vincent 1997, p. 113). Follow-
ing his announcement of a plan for heavy new taxes on the wealthy in summer 1919, Erzberger
became subject to a discreditation campaign. The former imperial finance minister, Karl Helfferich
(1872–1924), in a series of newspapers attacks, accused Erzberger of involvement in shadowy finan-
cial transactions, leading Erzberger to sue for slander (Halperin 1946, p. 170). The trial, which ran
from 19 January to 12 March 1920, culminated in a legal victory for Erzberger, since Helfferich was
found technically guilty of libel. Yet it was a political victory for Helfferich, since the court deemed
most of his accusations true (see Löwenstein 1921).
In the Russian civil war of 1918–20, which followed on the heels of the Communist Revolution
of 1917, the Russian White Army, composed of monarchists and other anticommunist forces, was not
well unified. It was ultimately defeated by the Red Army, in spite of sporadic military interventions
on its behalf by British, French, and American troops that ended in the fall of 1919.
Karl Radek (Sobelsohn) (1885–1939), a journalist and member of the Central Committee of
Soviet Russia, was sent to Germany in December 1918 to organize the German Communist Party. He
was arrested in February 1919, one month after the murders of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.