Still a Revolutionary - Albert Einstein (2020) - full transcript

Albert Einstein, the most famous scientist of all time, was a world-renowned celebrity, greeted like a rock star when he appeared in public. An anti-war firebrand, Einstein also spoke out ...

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I'm not only a pacifist,

but a militant pacifist, militant.

I'm willing to fight, to fight for peace.

I do not know how the Third
World War will be fought,

but I can tell you what
they'll use in the Fourth:

rocks.

The myth of Einstein was created in 1919.

You can date it very specifically.

The British astronomer Stanley Eddington

confirmed Einstein's
general theory of relativity

through observations of a solar eclipse.



He announced them in
a very dramatic fashion

in November 1919 to a joint
session of the Royal Society

and the Royal Astronomical Society.

And that was then followed
by sensational headlines

in "The Times of London"
and "New York Times."

There was almost a conspiracy

of the great newspapers

to elevate this man into the firmament.

When Einstein's general
theory of relativity was confirmed

by Eddington in 1919,

this really was the start
for big public enthusiasm

but also for a big public controversy.

The English-speaking world
was quicker to accept him

as this greater-than-life figure.



Much more so, interestingly enough,
than in Germany.

They were making jokes
about the theory of relativity,

saying when people go dancing,
when they dance waltz,

then you will lose weight

when you dance in the
direction where the Earth rotates

or you gain weight

when you dance turning
in the other direction.

So the theory of relativity
was really present

in the public sphere everywhere.

The theory of relativity was really a topic

in all areas in the public
that you can think of.

This world is a strange mad house.

Every coachman and every baker

is debating whether
relativity theory is correct.

As a consequence

of his celebrity status overnight,

photographers and journalists

started besieging his apartment,

and from that moment on, basically,

every public utterance that he would make

and every trip that he undertook

would be reported in great detail.

With me, every peep becomes a trumpet solo.

Einstein!

Einstein!

Professor and Mrs. Einstein,

it is my pleasure to welcome
you to the City of San Diego

and to the State of California.

When Einstein came to America,

there were parades turned out to meet him,

and there were parades in several places,

and he was invited here,
there, and everywhere.

He was the first intellectual pop star.

People go out into
the streets to greet him.

He's a big celebrity.

Everybody knows what Einstein looks like.

A young Einstein felt
encouraged to enter science.

He had a teacher at his home, Max Talmud,

later called Talmey,
who was a medical student,

enthusiastic about science,

and who took the younger
Einstein as an equal,

discussing with him science.

Science was not the esoteric
world to be admired from below.

It was a time of development,

of sophisticated industrialization,
of electrotechnology,

of technology conquering the world.

It was a world in which one could enter,

actively contribute, become part of it.

And so, the young Einstein did.

And he went to Italy and
experienced the freedom there

and the great culture but
also the open mindedness

towards exactly this kind of development.

With his uncle,

he communicated about
electrotechnical developments.

My dear uncle,

I'm really very glad that
you are still interested

in my humble doings.

It is rather naive and imperfect.

This might be expected from
such a young fellow like myself.

And was quite familiar
with this growing world,

which really extended
from technical equipments

that were changing the daily life,

electric lighting was
being spread in the cities,

to the intellectual
challenges this implied.

You could have the feeling,
as a young person,

of challenging the
foundation of your world,

and this gave Einstein a lot of courage

that there was something to be achieved,

you could make a difference.

Even if you were not born
into the center of the world

and if you came from the margins,

there was this way of
entering the big world.

The class of people that made it,

people who were open-minded,
who were believing in progress

and not just in technological
but also in social progress,

in a bright, international,
communicative world.

And that's the world in
which Einstein grew up.

His parents were from a
rural Southern German,

more of a egalitarian ethos

than the typical Prussian military ethos

that we're familiar with when
we think of German culture.

Part of Einstein's
support for social justice

comes from his experiences
of anti-Semitism at school

from quite an early age.

He would be bullied on the way to school,

even physically assaulted sometimes.

A Catholic teacher once
brought a nail to school

and presented it to the children and said,
"This is the nail

with which the Jews
killed our Lord and Savior."

And then everybody turned to Einstein,

and he was quite mortified.

Ever since Einstein was very little,

he was a revolutionary.

He revolted against the way German teaching

basically crushed imagination
out of young children,

the tedious memorization.

You weren't supposed
to question the teacher.

The teacher was god in the classroom.

As a teenager,

Einstein had to confront
the issue of war and peace.

Einstein did not want to
go into the German Army,

and so, he became a draft dodger.

How many 16-year-old kids
have the political maturity

to say to themselves
that they are against war

so they're gonna
renounce their citizenship?

Young Einstein leaves Germany for Italy

to reunite with his parents

because he cannot stomach the idea

of being part of a war machine.

Einstein had a political learning curve

at the end of the 19th century,

a son of a liberal Jewish family.

So his family went to Italy,
he studied in Switzerland.

It was an important place for him, also,

to experience what a democracy is like,

gave him an internationalist outlook

that portrayed to him the model republic.

When he came to Berlin at
the eve of the First World War,

most of his colleague
were German nationalist,

considered German militarism as a necessity

to defend German culture.

Einstein was taken aback by it,
and he had other views

on the basis of this different
background that he had.

That vilest offspring of the herd mind,

the odious militia.

He wasn't a political animal at this time

but he mobilized some of
the intellectual moral resources

that his education had give
him to become more and more

of a politically conscious human being.

And so, his strong sense of justice,

his strong sense of
universal and globalism,

and his participation as a Jew

are the foundation of his morality.

Only morality in our actions

can give beauty and dignity to life.

And he, like in physics,
is a revolutionary thinker.

He could identify with the underdog.

Following his studies,

when he was then looking
around desperately for a position,

he was the only one in his class who,
ironically,

did not secure a position as an assistant,

the first step on the ladder
of an academic career.

To some extent,
he blamed anti-Semitism for that.

It was also probably to
do with his personality

of not really getting on
with the powers that be.

In 1914, Einstein came to Berlin,
where he discovered,

as he said, for the first time, Jews.

When there was a influx
of Eastern European Jews

into Germany as a consequence
of the war in the East,

he identified with their plight.

German voices are increasingly heard

that demand legal measures
against Eastern European truce.

Measures that devastate so many individuals

must not be triggered
by slogan-like assertions.

Agitation by demagogues
diverts from the true problems.

The expulsion of the Eastern European Jews,

resulting in unspeakable misery,

would only appear to the whole world

as new evidence of German barbarism.

Because, of course, in his childhood,

he had been one of an outsider minority.

Now in Berlin, he found very large numbers,

especially from Eastern Europe,

who did not have access
to higher education.

He was very concerned

that young Eastern European
Jewish academic talent

was going to waste.

For him, the most important thing was free,

uninhibited research, scientific research.

His sister later described
his sense of justice

to that very thing in founding
the Hebrew University,

a place where people like himself,
young Jews,

could be educated.

This institution of
research and scholarship,

the Hebrew University in Jerusalem,

was founded long before the establishment

of the independent State of Israel.

But Einstein wasn't quite
yet the political animal

that he was to become.

That developed only over time.

He early on saw the
dangers of the Nazi regime.

He knew his German colleagues,

both their strength in terms
of scientific competence

and their weaknesses in
terms of willing to cooperate,

to subordinate themselves
under the authorities.

I have always found repulsive

the undignified addiction to
conformity of many of my peers.

At times like this,

one realizes what a sorry
species one belongs to.

He was politically unconventional.

I mean,
his taking a stand on the First World War

already was an extremely courageous thing

for someone in his position.

Remember,
there are so few Jewish professors

in Germany and Austria at that point

that somebody had to write a letter

claiming he was free of
unpleasant Jewish characteristics.

So, he could have retreated,

and it would have been
the easiest thing in the world

for him to do, to not be outspoken.

I think we all, as humans, to some extent,

compartmentalize domains of our lives.

We separate work from
friendship from family.

So,
compartmentalization is just the usual way

of dealing with complex
situations one experiences in life.

Haber is just an extreme case.

Haber really was
enthusiastically supporting the war

and putting science at its service.

But Einstein certainly felt
close to Haber intellectually.

He was one of the leading
physical chemists of the time.

Einstein made great contributions

to the foundations of physical chemistry.

Both had Jewish backgrounds,
and both problematic marriages.

So these two men certainly
were like-minded in many ways

on an intellectual level,
but Haber was no exception.

Other close friends of Einstein

also were signing the famous declaration

in favor of German militarism
and the occupation of Belgium

and of the cruelties that
the German Army committed.

That was the way

that all of Einstein's
colleagues were thinking.

Einstein really was the great exception.

How do you deal with the fact

if you are so incredibly
lonely in your political position?

You are not there as
a political ambassador,

you are called there as a scientist.

Feeling that your colleagues
were doing excellent work,

and some of the leading
scientists were there.

Most of them were
nationalist conservatives,

to say the least.

Some, like Fritz Haber, war criminals.

From our perspective,

Einstein should have broken with Haber,

should have told him
to stop his war efforts,

but that was an unthinkable
breaching of wars at the time.

If people are working on dubious issues

in the military industry,

and they see consequences,
dangerous consequences,

do they have the courage

of becoming what they call whistleblowers?

So, whistleblowing,

that's what we would have
expected from Einstein.

But I think it is, again,
not just our general way,

and certainly not the
specific way of Einstein,

but it's the particular
situation of the time

that people were just
more compartmentalizing

than we do today.

It's really one of the historical lessons

that Einstein learned,
that we have learned,

that there is a danger in
such compartmentalization.

To come to the extreme, many Nazis,

it seems we were friendly to their dogs

and even to their family.

Isn't that an extreme form
of this compartmentalization,

and don't we despise this today?

Yes, but it's a historical
lesson that we have learned

that we should look across such boundaries

and see what the full personality is,

the full implications in the public life

or in the private life are.

I think Einstein wasn't at
the point of having drawn

or having taken in all those lessons yet,

but he soon was to do that.

Nationalism is an infantile disease.

It is the measles of mankind.

Anti-Semitism in all of
Europe and also in Germany

has a long history, of course.

I saw worthy Jews basely caricatured

and the sight make my heart bleed.

The gentile majority
undermines the confidence

even of the best of my fellow Jews,

and I felt this could not
be allowed to continue.

And in Germany,

it was accentuated by the
spectacular success of some Jews

in the German political
and economic system,

which didn't compensate in any way

for the repression that was still ongoing

at other layers of social life,

but it made the Jews so much more visible.

And in the crisis of the First World War

and after the crisis,

after the German defeat
in the First World War,

people needed to find scapegoats,

and the Jews were quite appropriate,
in a way,

because they were so
internationally-minded,

much more than the rest
of the German averages

and they were so exposed.

Some of them were highly visible

as part of the political
and intellectual elite

of the Weimar Republic,
so they were targets, easy targets.

Ever since the abominable
murder of Rathenau,

I myself am being constantly
warned to be cautious.

Anti-Semitism is very widespread.

By 1922,
there are over 300 political murders

by right-wing radical groups, and this was

a particularly dangerous time,
also, for Einstein.

Einstein was, in the '20s,

Weimar's prized public intellectual,

one of the very few people

who'd spoken out against
the First World War,

and he was very happy to put himself

in the services of the Weimar Republic

and do whatever could
be done to strengthen it,

the first democratic republic in Germany.

Funny people, these Germans.

To them, I'm a stinking flower,

yet they put me into
their lapel time and again.

And it was a brave stand

because the Foreign Minister of Weimar,
Walter Rathenau,

was actually murdered as a Jew,
and a left-leaning Jew,

and some of the same group who murdered him

offered to pay a reward to
anyone who would murder Einstein.

Einstein, he received warnings

that he's on the list of that group

that murdered Walter Rathenau.

And he was withdrawing
from all public appearances

at that time, he canceled his lectures.

It seems I belong to that group of people

whom the radical right plan to assassinate.

There was a grand big
lecture he was supposed to give

that was a centennial

of the German Society of
Natural Sciences and Physicians,

it was their 100th anniversary celebration,

and Einstein's lecture had
to be rescheduled, I guess.

It was a big lecture for that celebration,

and he had to cancel that.

Many scientists,
like Max Planck and von Laue,

couldn't believe that it was possible

that one of the most
important scientists in Germany,

Einstein,
that he was somehow forced to withdraw

from giving this lecture
by right-wing radicals

who threatened his life.

And it extended,
one may be surprised at that,

also to the field of science.

There were different groups of people

opposing the theory of relativity.

There was a political opposition.

Einstein, as a democrat,
as a Jew in the Weimar Republic,

he was a target of many people

who had nationalistic motivation,
who were anti-Semites,

attacking Einstein as a person.

And there was also an
opposition which mainly motivated

by different understandings of science.

It was not Einstein who
put the topic of anti-Semitism

on the agenda.

He was responding to a
widespread anti-Semitism

in the public area but also
among his academic colleagues.

The Einstein opponents
established their own academy.

So, an academy of the Einstein opponents.

So, this was a network

mainly between the
United States and Germany.

Under the pretentious name

Association of German Natural Scientists

for the Preservation of Pure Science,

a society has assembled
whose purpose of existence

seems to be to degrade
the theory of relativity

as well as me as its originator.

He left town,

but it did not deter him
from continuing to speak out.

People who survey the
situation in Germany well

are indeed of the opinion

that a certain threat
to my life does exist.

A yearning for the Far East

led me to accept the invitation to Japan.

Another part was the
need to get away for a while

from the tense atmosphere in our homeland

for a period of time.

After the murder of Rathenau,
I was certainly relieved

to have an opportunity for a
long absence from Germany,

taking me away from the
temporarily heightened danger.

I seek solace in Mozart,
but when I am improvising

and it appears that
something may come of it,

I require the clear construction of Bach.

The picture of Einstein

that gets presented by so
many Einstein specialists

is yes, he was absolutely brilliant,

but he was a sort of childish, sad fool.

The things that were most important to him

are described as being the
sort of ideas of a childish fool,

of a luftmensch.

A luftmensch being a Yiddish expression,

not a German expression,

which basically means
somebody who has a lot of ideas

but keeps his head in the air, luft,

without keeping his feet on the ground,
a naive person.

Is actually a way of undermining,
dare I say castrating him.

Einstein, who was often portrayed

as somebody who kept a
distance from other people,

which he certainly tried
to do and needed to do

in order to be able to keep working,

given that he was such a public celebrity,

but I think he was a realist of a way.

He had experience enough
about people and their weaknesses

not just to dream about a utopian,
peaceful world.

If you think when he was
talking against militarism,

against the wrong way to be a nationalist,

before we knew that
there's the First World War,

there will be a second one,
there will be the atomic bomb,

beware of what can happen.

It's a realistic political thinking.

One should be impressed
that he could say these things

so early and he was one of
the very few people who said,

"Oh, be aware."

It is strange that science,

which in the old days seemed harmless,

should have evolved into a nightmare

that causes everyone to tremble.

He was very distressed
by his celebrity status

at the beginning.

It's dangerous,
because if you admire someone,

you follow him without thinking about it,
really,

without using your own responsibility.

So, without doing what Einstein always did,

thinking himself and
thinking in a responsible way,

thinking in a political way, also.

So I think this is the reason
why famousness in general

was not something he could admire

or he could tolerate, really.

Einstein really lends himself

to that kind of mythologization

insofar as he was a great
ham and the press loved him.

What do you think of prohibition,
Professor?

He doesn't drink at all,

so he's not interested in this question.

And he would laugh,

and he apparently had a
laugh like a barking seal.

He was ideal as a kind of matinee idol.

Mr. George Bernard Shaw
in honor of Professor Einstein.

There's an order of men
who are makers of universes.

Ptolemy made a universe
which lasted 1,400 years.

Newton also made a universe
which has lasted 300 years.

Einstein has made a universe,

and I can't tell you
how long that will last.

He was not naive but he saw very well

it's useful for his goals,
for his political goals,

for helping people.

He saw it, basically, as a curse.

Worshiped today,

scorned or even crucified tomorrow,

that is the fate of people whom,
God knows why,

the bored public has taken possession of.

He didn't quite understand why,
of all the scientists,

he'd kind of been singled out

for this unpleasant development,

but eventually he learned
how to use his celebrity status

to promote causes that
were important to him.

As it contradicts the
image of him as being naive,

he became quite shrewd in
deciding what he would approve.

We scientists who
released this immense power

have overwhelming responsibility

in this world life-and-death
struggle to harness atom.

I agree.

Which petition he would sign,

which committee he would
become the honorary chairman of.

He was pretty discretionary
about it and selective.

I have tried to be very economical

with my public utterances.

This is the best way

not to lose the small beneficial influence

one is able to exercise.

He thought,

"Okay, if my famousness
is part of my moral capital,

I can use it to help or to
have a political influence."

He was a political human
being before his American years.

It would be sad to waste much energy

on the meager soil of politics.

From time to time, however,

the moment arrives
when I cannot help myself.

If you read his texts about peace,
about human rights,

about human beings in the world,
it's easy to think,

"Okay, this is very fundamental."

But it's really a political
engagement because, for him,

the point of all things is the human being.

It's not the German one,
the American one, the French,

it's the human being's right for freedom,

for his individuality.

He's being besieged all the time

for requests to give a
kosher stamp to

or an un-kosher stamp
to all kinds of enterprises.

Magnus Hirschfeld had a
very important institute in Berlin

in the '20s,

when people were becoming
more open about sexuality,

but there was still a lot of pushback,

and Hirschfeld's institute
was one of the first things

the Nazis closed.

They described him as decadent.

He was gay, and not simply in favor

of what we came to call gay liberation,

but women's rights to open sexuality

and a whole host of other things

that were quite controversial at the time.

When asked to support
Hirschfeld's institute, Einstein said:

Abortion up till a certain
stage of pregnancy

should be permissible at
the request of the woman.

Homosexuality should be
exempt from punishment.

In regard to sex education,
no secretiveness.

Exactly the right things that are as valid,
I think,

and important today as they were in 1929.

Einstein is often criticized,

and I'm sometimes asked how can I,
as a woman,

defend Einstein's relationship
toward women and his wives.

Einstein's first wife, Mileva,
was older than him,

partly crippled, not Jewish,
and anathema to his parents.

She was the only woman
physics student in Zurich.

Einstein fell in love with a woman

who could share his intellectual passions,

and he only got permission to marry her

on his father's deathbed.

They had a daughter out of wedlock

before his parents would
permit them to marry.

My dearest sweetheart,

it's such a shame that our dear Lieserl

must be introduced
to the world in this way.

I love her so much and
don't even know her yet.

She probably gave the daughter,

all we really know about her
is that she was named Lieserl,

up for adoption,
and not only did they never see her again,

no one, and many Einstein researchers

have tried to find out what
happened to Lieserl, no one has.

Diagnoses at a distance
are always a problem,

but that was probably a
trigger for Mileva's depressions,

which continued and became more serious

and more tinged with rage
as the marriage went on.

She wound up failing
her PhD exam in physics,

which cannot have been easy for her

to be living with someone

who was writing world
historical physics papers.

And the marriage fell apart.

There's a letter that he wrote for Mileva

in which he tells her to keep her distance

and it is harsh and it is hostile.

You will renounce all
personal relations with me

as far as maintaining them

is not absolutely
required for social reasons.

And all that I would say to that,

he did take care of her financially.

He knew he was gonna get
the Nobel Prize eventually.

He gave it almost in its entirety to her.

So then, people say,

"Ah, well, what do you say
about his marriage to Elsa?"

Elsa was his cousin.

I suppose they had
some kind of familial bond.

She was a divorced woman with two daughters

whom Einstein treated as his own.

She cared for him when
he nearly died in Berlin.

I have to have someone to love.

Otherwise, life is miserable.

And this someone is you.

He was just in the process

of getting out of a really crazy marriage,

so it seemed like stability

and something that he could
feel happy and comfortable in.

She also does, in those pictures,

really look more like
his mother than his lover,

and Einstein was a
man on fire all his life,

and he needed to connect with other women

in ways that he simply couldn't with Elsa.

He made two completely
different bad marriages.

He was sad about that.

What I admired in him the most as a person

is that he succeeded
in living for many years,

not just in peace,

but in constant consonance with one woman,

an endeavor in which I failed twice,
quite ignominiously.

For his 50th birthday,

the City of Berlin decided
to give him as a gift

a house in the woods
where he could go sailing,

which everybody knew was
his favorite way of relaxing,

and a group of right-wing people

highly objected to the City of Berlin

giving a birthday gift
to that socialist Jew.

Einstein said, "Okay, I'll buy it myself."

What attracted and appealed
to Elsa about Einstein's life

was exactly what Einstein did not want,

the social celebrity,
the being invited to aristocrat's,

and so on.

She had no pretension of
trying to understand his physics,

but she really wanted to be
a sort of high bourgeois wife.

The house was not only used
for him to get away from Berlin.

It was a place where, really,

some of the great minds
of his generation came to.

Rabindranath Tagore came from India,

Heinrich Mann, Chaim Weizmann, Max Planck,

just a whole row of
people came out to discuss,

as they say in German, God and the world,

or sometimes to play
string quartets on the terrace.

Mozart's music is so pure and beautiful

that I see it as a reflection

of the inner beauty of the universe.

There is a rumor that
describes Einstein as antisocial.

I've even seen him described as autistic.

This is nuts.

Einstein was an extremely
socially engaged person

when he wanted to be,
but he did not like formalities.

A delegation of ministers
was coming out to visit him

from Berlin, and Elsa said,

"Albert, the ministers are coming.

It's time to put on your suit."

And Einstein said,
"If they wanna see me, I'm here.

If they wanna see my clothes,
you can open the closet."

So, that says something

about the way that he dealt with people.

Einstein preferred to spend
as much time as possible

in the house in Caputh

in those four years before he left Germany.

I cannot understand

the passive response of
the whole civilized world

to this modern barbarism.

Doesn't the world see
that Hitler is aiming for war?

In all these years,
I have only enhanced Germany's prestige

and never allowed myself to be alienated

by the systematic attacks
on me in the rightist press,

especially those in recent years

in which no one took the
trouble to stand up for me.

Is not the destruction of
German truce by starvation

the official program of the
present German government?

Einstein definitely was a realist,

and he moved from
pacifism to militant pacifism

and then he abandoned it, of course,

when confronted with Hitlerism.

It was pacifism that,
when confronted with odds

that were overwhelming,
would make concessions.

I'm not only a pacifist,
but a militant pacifist.

I am willing to fight for peace.

He felt that the danger,

after the discovery of nuclear fission,

of building atomic bombs, was a real one.

He was right that there was such a danger,

and it was hard to assess how realistic

and how long it would take,
actually, to build such a bomb.

So that he supported it by
the famous letter to Roosevelt,

which he signed.

In the letter itself,

it talks about the bomb being so heavy

that it would have to be delivered by ship

and exploded in the harbor,

so there was no concept of feasibility,
then,

of transporting it by plane.

The American engagement
in building the bomb

was quite understandable,
given the situation.

Therefore, I'm saying Einstein had become,

I think he didn't change
his fundamental positions,

but he was becoming
more and more of a realist.

And so, he found that this
was an important move to take

at the time.

Organized power can be opposed

only by organized power.

Much as I regret this,
there is no other way.

Einstein deeply regretted, eventually,

writing the famous letter to FDR.

He thought that it was very instrumental

in setting up the Manhattan Project.

He thought that that
was his major contribution

to the dawning of the atomic era.

He didn't think that his formula

had played any role in that.

Albert Einstein felt very
much his responsibility

for young scientists who
want to came to America

or didn't have an affidavit
or any help to get a job there,

and he tried whatever he
could to help other emigres,

other scientists,
and a lot of time, a lot of power,

a lot of money, he gave to these people,

and he tried nearly to
help all he could help.

He had something like
a little grove for emigres.

I think it's a very important part

of the man Albert Einstein,

of the immigrant Albert Einstein,
of the exiled,

and of the political human
being Albert Einstein too

because I think this
engagement for other emigres

is part of his responsibility, of course,

because he was a famous one
and he could help them, really.

But it's also part of
his political thinking

that this is now what one should do

to make it possible for
them to come to America,

to get a chance to get a job there.

My dad had left Germany in December '35

to come to the United States.

The idea was the family would follow.

In May of '36,
we all went to the American consulate.

My mother and my
brother each got their visa,

but I was turned down,
allegedly for having tuberculosis.

My dad was a physician.

The likelihood that I had
tuberculosis was just very remote.

My mother had me examined
by German physicians,

colleagues of my dad, and they all said,

"There's no evidence of tuberculosis.

This must be a mistake."

My mother and my brother
left to come to the United States

and join my dad.

The idea was that you could
reapply after three months

for a visa,
and since this obviously was a mistake,

I would get the visa then.

After three months,

my grandmother now took me
to the American consulate again,

and I even had some medical statements

that there was no evidence of tuberculosis

but, much to everybody's surprise,
I was turned down again.

This went on for a total of four times.

Each time I was turned down

by a physician from the American consulate.

My parents, of course,
were in the United States,

they were getting frantic about all this.

They enlisted all kinds of help.

Finally,
Albert Einstein got interested in this.

Einstein then wrote two letters,
very strong letters,

one to the Surgeon General Thomas Parran.

I shall spare no effort

to straighten out this matter.

And one to an assistant secretary of state

by the name of Messersmith.

And he wrote them himself
because in one case, at least,

I have the handwritten original draft.

My dad was able to get the consul in Zurich

to make an exception.

An aunt of mine brought me to Switzerland.

I got my physical examination, I passed it,

and I arrived in the United
States on March 4th, 1938.

I finally had an opportunity
to visit him in Princeton.

He had never met me before
but he remembered the case.

The way we talked

was the way I might talk to
just a nice elderly gentleman,

I mean, to my grandfather.

I was already working
in industry at that time,

and he wanted to know
exactly what I was doing.

He was very interested in it

and we sorta discussed technical details.

We talked just like we were colleagues,
I mean,

in a very warm and
simple kind of friendly way.

Einstein apparently worked very hard

on behalf of German
Jewish immigrants all along,

so my case was not that unusual.

There's a little anecdote

that four young men came
to a hospital to get a job there

and each of them had a letter
of Albert Einstein

telling, "Yes,
you should give him this job."

Of course, this is an anecdote.

I think it's not true
because he knew very well

if you do it like this,
it won't help anybody.

His recommendations are serious.

They did try and actively save

and did actively save individuals

from the claws of Hitler and of Nazism.

So he knows that Jews
have to go some place,

he sees the great tragedy.

With respect to his political attitudes

toward Israel and the Palestinian problem,

some of his ideas of
how to solve the problem

seem unrealistic to our modern ear,

given the intransigence of both sides.

He was opposed to the
establishment of a Jewish state.

He had advocated vociferously
against it for decades,

even after the Holocaust.

By '33, Einstein can see
the disaster that's unfolding

because of nationalism.

And even in the First World War,

he can see the great conflict of it.

So, in that context,

why support a national
expression for the Jews?

He had been very concerned already,

even from his first visit
to Palestine in 1923,

of tendencies towards narrow nationalism

and what he termed to be chauvinism.

And he saw that being played out

even in the early years of the state,

and even in pre-state Jewish
community in Palestine.

He was in favor of more
of a binational solution.

I should much rather see
a reasonable agreement

with the Arabs on living together in peace

than the creation of a Jewish state.

He was in favor of a Jewish homeland

and he was in favor of joint
institutions and, basically,

of the formation of a
committee of technocrats.

He wanted the politicians
out of the picture

and he wanted technocrats from both sides

to make the important
decisions in a most objective,

neutral, unbiased, unemotional manner.

The state idea is not
according to my heart.

It is connected with many difficulties

and a narrow mindedness.

I believe it is bad.

After the establishment of the state,
he resigned himself

to, basically, to the fait accompli.

Wasn't happy with it,
to lend the state his support,

but became very
critical of certain policies,

even in the early years.

He cosigned a letter

together with other prominent
Jewish intellectuals in 1948

to "The New York Times,"

in which he protested the
visit of Menachem Begin

to the U.S. and called
him a terrorist leader.

At the time he was here,
he was the head of the Irgun.

It only plays into the more conflict

and, of course,
if you look at the current sadness

about the State of Israel,

you could congratulate Einstein,
you could say,

"Yes, look at it, you were right."

Nationalism is,
no matter what kind of nationalism,

is gonna be difficult.

The absolute disaster of
not having a Jewish state

is in front of his eyes.

My awareness of the
essential nature of Judaism

resists the idea of a Jewish
state with borders, an army,

and a measure of temporal power.

Einstein is the poster child

for everything in the universe

but also for Jewish peoplehood.

He needs a nation to back up the people.

I really believe

he thought that all the
nations would get together

and just start to dissolve nationalism.

The United Nations General Assembly,

which helped to create the State of Israel,

now elects her a member nation.

Assembly President Evatt announces.

Formally declare Israel
admitted to membership

in the United Nations.

The young republic, born of war,

now joins the Council of Peace.

The blue and white Star of David.

So, once we participated in it,
we could understand it,

we could be a complete people.

Complete peoples have a land, a language,

a history, a culture.

And then we could,

as Jewish participants in the human family,

to begin to reduce nationalism

and bring more global harmony.

Prime Minister Ben-Gurion of Israel

arrives at Princeton, New Jersey

to call on Dr. Albert Einstein.

The man whose physics formula

led the way to the atomic explosion

plays host to the leader
who played a great part

in the creation of the Israeli nation.

I am deeply moved

by the offer from our State of Israel,

and at once sad and abashed

that it is impossible for me to accept it.

All my life,
I have dealt with objective matters.

Hence, I lack the natural
aptitude and the experience

to deal properly with people

and to exercise official functions.

For these reasons,

I do not feel able to
fulfill the requirements

of this great task.

I am the more distressed
over these circumstances

because my relationship
to the Jewish people

has become my strongest human bond.

If I were to be president,

sometimes I would have
to say to the Israeli people

things they would not like to hear.

He saw the humor in situations,

he saw the irony in situations,

and it ties in partly with his playfulness.

He had a very playful,
childlike appreciation of things.

One of the things that
makes him very appealing,

aside from his great sense of humor,

is that he was genuinely
a modest human being.

You can tell just by looking at his eyes,

this is a man with incredible spark.

I like to call it a sense of being alive,

a sense of intense
curiosity about the real world.

The ability to relate to all
kinds of different people,

from kings and queens to small children,
when he wanted to.

He hated hierarchy,
hated class distinctions,

and that was obvious,
also, then, in America,

where he was outraged by racism.

The distinctions

separating the social classes are false.

In the last analysis, they rest on force.

Many people don't realize

that Albert Einstein was at the forefront

of the struggle for racial
equality in the United States.

It pained him to see the
plight of African Americans.

He was right there,

right there with W. E. B. Du Bois,

right there with Paul Robeson,
right there with the struggle

of African Americans for equality.

In order for the American people

to wake up to the plight of discrimination

The race problem

is a disease of the white people.

Segregation tomorrow,

and segregation forever!

There is a somber point

in the social outlook of Americans.

Their sense of equality and human dignity

is mainly limited to men of white skins.

The more I feel an American,

the more the situation pains me.

I can escape the
feeling of complicity in it

only by speaking out.

Albert Einstein not only
pioneered new strategies,

new ways of looking at the heavens,

not only did he open up new pathways

by which we can oppose fascism,
he also was at the forefront

for the struggle for racial
equality in the United States.

When he moved to Princeton,

Marian Anderson was playing
a sold-out concert in Princeton

but the Nassau Inn would
not allow her to stay there.

When Einstein found out about it,

he invited her to stay at his place

and they became friends
for the rest of his life.

Similar stories with Paul Robeson.

There's a story the first time
Robeson came to meet him

at his house in Princeton,

the man accompanying Robeson,
whose name I now forget, said,

"Oh, Mr. Einstein, it's such a privilege

to meet a great man."

And Einstein said,
"You just came with a great man."

So, enormous respect for Robeson

and enormous commitment
to civil rights as human rights.

He accommodated to
the realities of the situation,

and he was not an ideologue.

Most important for Einstein
in the political sphere

was the need for human beings

to have peace with one another.

And this comes, really,
from Einstein's own background

and his physics career.

He is someone who realizes
that scientific progress

can only be made through cooperation,

can only be made through
the sharing of information,

through the sharing of sensibilities

and the taking into account

what the wishes and
the views of others are.

He was, of course, not a man of the people,

although he certainly
was presented as such,

but he was an elitist.

And for him, the elite that mattered

was the elite of intellectuals

who live in a society in which
the exchange of information,

the exchange of knowledge, is everything.

Don't think it was anything peculiar

about Einstein's character

that made him reject any
membership of German institutions

after the war.

It has to more to do with
Germany that with Einstein.

All the scientific institutions,

the academic institutions in Germany

have gotten deeply involved,

and not necessarily under external force

but most often also voluntarily,
with the Nazi regime,

and at the time when Einstein,
after the war,

had interactions with them,
hadn't cleansed themselves

from these interactions,
hadn't worked up their own history.

It was the most natural
and understandable position

that Einstein took.

So I don't think he didn't even need to be

a particularly upright man,
which, of course, he was,

in order to take that position.

It was just a position of good
common sense that he took.

Einstein was prescient

on every political issue
he ever engaged with,

He thought
Germany was irredeemable.

Germany had started two world wars

and there was no way to atone for that sin.

He never wanted to set foot there again.

But about the mid-'60s,

the Germans did a look at their history.

People were outraged, as they came of age

and saw the Auschwitz
trials or the Eichmann trial,

that their parents had,
at the very least, been bystanders,

and at the very worst, been Nazis.

To the point where the
government would actually say,

"This is our identity, we do not forget."

And the slogan is not collective guilt

but collective
responsibility for the future

by continuing to look at the past.

Einstein could not have seen that coming.

And so,
I don't see him there as a dreamy scientist

who didn't see the realities.

He saw the dangers

that were connected with nuclear armaments,

and he could foresee such dangers

as they come with the
uncontrolled spreading

of radioactive materials.

This is the "CBS Evening News,"
Dan Rather reporting.

Every indication is that it
was a serious nuclear accident.

Chernobyl is a string
of four nuclear reactors

some 80 miles north of
the Ukrainian capital of Kiev,

an urbanized region

believed populated by 2 1/2 million people.

Several hours

before the Soviets admitted the accident,

increased radiation was first detected

at this nuclear power
plant North of Stockholm.

600 workers were evacuated

after one of them set off an alarm

while passing through a
routine radiation check.

Soon,
there were reports of higher than usual

radiation levels throughout Scandinavia.

Winds blowing in a northwesterly direction

apparently carried
the radioactive pollution

nearly 1,000 miles from the Ukraine.

"That," say experts,

"indicates the accident
was extremely serious."

And the danger that small conflicts

might escalate into larger ones,

and so, his only hope,
his only perspective was control,

was understanding
communication on a global scale.

Human beings are not condemned

because of their biological constitution

to annihilate each other

or to be at the mercy of
our cruel self-inflicted fate.

He was one of the first intellectuals

to clearly see the full
dimension of a globalized world

because the world became globalized

once these arms had the
potential of destroying the planet.

However, later,
when he saw what the consequences were,

he felt, first of all, even more compelled

to take an explicit public stance

in regard to political measures

in terms of nuclear armaments.

The war is won, but the peace is not.

The great powers, united in fighting,

are now divided over the peace settlements.

He took it on as a deep moral obligation

and he saw it as a moral
obligation for all scientists

to become responsible for their deeds,
for the knowledge,

for the use of their knowledge.

This is the political learning curve

that Einstein had undergone.

His capacity to take up challenges,

to deal with those challenges,

to intellectually digest them,
and to draw consequence.

He is known as a proponent
of a world government

that one needed to establish
a peaceful world order.

And this in the midst of
the period of the Cold War

when he became engaged with these issues

in a very strong way,

arguing against nuclear armament
and against the arms race.

Mr. Welch talks about this
being cruel and reckless.

He was just baiting.

He has been baiting
Mr. Cohn here for hours,

requesting that Mr. Cohn before sundown

get out of any department of the government

anyone who is serving the Communist cause.

Now, I just give this man's record,

and I want to say, Mr. Welch,
that it has been labeled

long before he became a member,
as early as 1944-

Senator, may we not drop this?

We know he belongs to the Lawyers Guild.

Let me finish-Let us not

assassinate this man further, Senator.

Let's, let's-
You've done enough.

Have you no sense of decency,
sir, at long last?

Have you left no sense of decency?

Because of the alleged external danger

to our country,
freedom of the press is obstructed.

This is done by creating a situation

in which people fear their
economic positions endangered.

This is a state of affairs

which a democratic
government cannot survive.

The U.S. is no longer a free country.

My house is closely watched.

He not only spoke out
against the blacklist,

but encouraged younger
people to do the same.

You may appear with flowers

on the day when the last
witch hunter has been silenced,

but not before.

And the beautiful thing about it is,

he didn't just encourage
people to refuse to testify,

he tried to help them find jobs afterwards

and did what he could to leverage his name.

Reactionary politicians

have managed to instill suspicion

of all intellectual
efforts into the public.

They are now proceeding to
suppress the freedom of teaching

and to deprive of their positions

all of those who do not prove submissive,

in effect, to starve them.

What to do against this evil?

Frankly, I can only see

the revolutionary way of non-cooperation

in the sense of Gandhi's refuse to testify.

He must be prepared
for jail and economic ruin,

for the sacrifice of his personal welfare

in the interest of the
welfare of his country.

It is shameful for a blameless citizen

to submit to such an inquisition

that violates the spirit
of the Constitution.

I believe that older people

who have scarcely anything to lose

ought to be willing to speak out

on behalf of those who are young

and who are subject to
much greater restraint.

We're really talking
about the character feature

of Einstein, and I don't think
it's so much the loneliness

or the aloofness of Einstein.

If you see pictures, movies of the '20s,

Einstein was quite a party animal.

He was talkative, communicative.

He had, from his early days,
an incredible self-confidence,

and I think that is the self-confidence

that gave him so much inner freedom.

And it was, of course,
confirmed by his life's achievement,

which gave him even greater freedom,
and it made him capable

of sustaining contradictions, rejections.

The loneliness that he experienced

in his political positions
in the First World War

was a loneliness that he didn't choose.

How vile and despicable war seems to me.

I would rather be hacked into pieces

than take part in such
an abominable business.

But this self-confidence

into his intellectual capabilities,

into his own moral autonomy,

gave him the strength to
sustain those differences.

One needs courage not to go with the crowd,

but to stay different.

One is, and I think that's very important,

never quite alone in these things

because there is, on the one hand,
an intellectual community

of the great people with
whom one communicates,

the people one reads
and one identifies with,

the great scientists of the past

but also the great moral
thinkers of the past.

Einstein loved Spinoza.

He had this world of philosophical
and intellectual thinking

with which he communicated,

but there were also the real friends

that were not necessarily
the famous scientists

but people like Michele Besso,

with whom he maintained
a lifelong friendship,

with whom he shared many
views about life and science.

And from the early days on,

from the famous Olympia Academy youth club,

Akademie Olympia, the friends,
the Habicht, the Solovine,

Einstein had a group
of people that actually,

in certain occasions of his life,

also helped him to stay stubborn.

Einstein thinks about the world

from Spinoza's perspective,

which is that the world is
radically one because God is one

and, therefore,
he has to be able to come up with a theory

to explain everything.

Spinoza believed that the universe was God

and, therefore,
he believed that every part of the universe

had the impact of God.

This is different than atheism.

This would be called pantheism.

All the aspects of the world are determined

and all of them are God.

You think about Spinoza,

he is a completely independent thinker,

he's a Jew without community,
he's a Jew without constraint,

he's a Jew without tradition,
he's a Jew without ritual.

And Einstein also.

Albert Einstein is a Jew,

he's called that in a consistent way.

And so,
Albert Einstein sees himself very much

as a secular Jew, of the Jewish people,

and this is an understanding
of his that's indelible.

I will never not be a Jew.

And he's happy,

eventually becoming more
and more happy to be a Jew.

From a philosophical or religious

or, in particularly, physics perspective,

think about Spinoza and the
idea that the universe is God.

There can be no random
action in the universe.

Einstein is reading Spinoza

and he's saying nothing can be random.

If I have a theory,
it has to explain everything.

And it has to be the
most simple explanation

that you can come up with.

Einstein believes if you
can figure out the cause,

you can figure out the effect.

His morality is based on that.

We have to be a cause for good.

He doesn't believe

that following Jewish tradition and rituals

is going to be the heart of his morality.

I myself am non-observant,

yet consider myself a loyal Jew.

He thinks that the
Jewish tradition and rituals

were for the theocracy that
existed in the land of Israel

thousands of years before,

and they're no longer
relevant in their details,

but they are relevant in their impact.

So if we are going to
be citizens of the world,

part of the people who are
thinking rigorously for justice,

then that justice has to be worked on.

And Einstein worked hard on that justice.

He can make, and does make,
lots of moral pronouncements

because he thinks they're
for the betterment of the world.

The most important human endeavor

is the striving for
morality in our actions.

Our inner balance and even
our very existence depend on it.

Only morality in our actions

can give beauty and dignity to life.

And he does live

at one of the most
extraordinary times of change,

both disaster and creation,
in Jewish history.

Einstein says, and I quote,
"I believe in Spinoza's God,

who reveals himself in the
lawful harmony of the world,

not in a God who concerns himself

with the faith and the doings of mankind."

It's a beautiful sentence,
it's an elegant sentence.

We don't have a God sitting on cloud.

We don't have a God that's
making for human progress.

We don't have a God
that's going to stop evil.

And in Einstein's life,
there's plenty of evil in the world.

He's alive during some of the greatest evil

in the history of humankind.

Einstein knows the terrible
disasters of the world,

of the 20th century.

But he also thinks that
the God that he believes in

is Spinoza's God,
which is about the harmony of the world,

and it's his job,
both in physics and morality

and even in politics, to build a world

which is more harmonious, and that is God.

If something is in me

that can be called religious,

then it is the unbounded admiration

for the structure of the world,

as far as science can reveal it.

It's very empowering to humanity,

it doesn't give you the sense

that God will intervene at the last minute.

After all, in the '30s and the early '40s,

if God could've, He really should've.

For you to pray for the change
of some kind of physical law

or that the gas or bullets
don't kill the people,

this is worthless.

You have to stop the war.

There is no other
salvation for civilization

and even for the human race

than in the creation of a world government.

And for Einstein,
this is a very significant,

and I think one could say,
significant religious belief.

I think that Einstein has
the most benevolent image

of any philosopher,
theologian, or physicist

of the 20th century.

He was, in some ways, fearless,
he was deep, he was active.

He believed that his imagination

was the most important of all of his tools.

Not his reason, not his learned intellect,

not his schooling, not his degrees.

Imagination is more
important than knowledge.

Knowledge is limited,
imagination encircles the world.

Einstein was described much later

by the last woman in his life
as a revolutionary to the end.

There was so much more
to Einstein besides physics.

There were his humanitarian endeavors,
his love of music,

his love of children and
animals and ice cream

and just talking to everybody

who was not necessarily
on the faculty or higher up.

He made himself available
to all kinds of people.

He is, in some ways, the victorious child.

A lucky boy, oh he was a lucky boy, yeah.

Eventually, in the final years,

mellowing to a certain extent

and then he becomes that
kind of chubby teddy bear figure

that we all like and love.

Not the real Einstein, but,

but a nice mythical figure.

Abortion,
up till a certain stage of pregnancy,

should be permissible at
the request of the woman.

Homosexuality should be
exempt from punishment.

It is strange that science,

which in the old days seemed harmless,

should have evolved into a nightmare

that causes everyone to tremble.

The race problem is a
disease of the white people.

Their sense of equality and human dignity

is mainly limited to men of white skins.

Reactionary politicians have
managed to instill suspicion

of all intellectual
efforts into the public.

Yes, I'm an old revolutionary.

Politically,
I'm still a fire-spewing Vesuvius.