Berlin (Mar. 1)
Berlin is associated with the picture of very straight streets, which have become a symbol of Prussian strictness. The district of Schoneberg, surrounded by an otherwise rigid network of lines, interrupts this sobriety somewhat. Haberland Street suddenly begins to turn in and winds up ### a many-cornered little square-almost a fairy tale in monotonous Berlin.
The house at No. 5 Haberland St. is no palace; it is a small Berlin lodging house, the like of which there are a good ten thousand in the other districts. A house for middling officials and small tradesmen. However, up on the top floor the name “Einstein” on a brass plate shines in full view; a name which at the present time is reverberating around the world among scientists and laymen, after having been a proud symbol for two decades, of a new era in scientific perception.
In the quiet boudoir one sits in front of a lady who has the stamp of spiritual nobility. She would consider it tactless were she to be called the congenial wife of Albert Einstein. The infinite spheres of the Einstein-ian inquiry her mind does not comprehend. Nevertheless, she is the fortunate complement of the great investigator and discoverer, who in his hours of leisure is a veritable child of the world. All who are near the workshop of the conqueror of Newton utter the name of Elsa Einstein with profound respect.
The dialogue is carried on in a modulated tone, since somewhere in the not very large dwelling the great scientist is at work. The voice of the lady is soft and rings with a pride that can be understood; Madame Elsa is not alone the wife of Albert, but also his own cousin; daughter of that Engineer Einstein who to a certain extent was teacher and model to the child Albert.
It is not possible often to receive here the gentlemen of the press who daily ask for an interview. What can be told them? The last year has been a year of the most intense work for Einstein, since even in the months of oppressive sickness-Einstein suffered from distension of the heart-it was not interrupted. All public work, such as that in the university and in the League of Nations, had to be interrupted; the usual participation in demonstrations against injustice to individuals as well as to collective bodies and in behalf of human rights and rights of nations, likewise the work in behalf of Palestine, could be carried on only sporadically.
The talk turns to the Jewishness of Einstein. Einstein did not grow up in the Jewish traditions, says his wife. These traditions did not prevail in the house of his parents. Nevertheless, Albert was a religious child, permeated with the consciousness of God, even
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though it was much later that he became permeated with the consciousness of his Jewishness. That was in April, 1914, as he tarried in Palestine on a return trip from Japan.
Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879, in the upper city of Ulm on the Danube. His father was a serene, optimistic, well-disposed man. When Albert was five years old, a compass shown him by his father first aroused in him wonder concerning unknown associations. His power of perception, dormant in the subconscious, awoke. This instrument directed him to the electro-magnetic field, that was to disclose itself to him decades later in fruitful studies.
About this time the Einstein family settled in Munich, where the head of the family started an electro-technical factory. The family lived in an idyllic little house in the midst of a large garden. In this environment a religious frame of mind was formed in the boy. At the same time he received private Jewish instruction from the teacher Frey. Very early the love for music began to stir in him, a love which has given rich content to his later life.
At this time there also occurred his first painful inner afflictions. Jewish children in the school were a small minority; little Albert here experienced the first sprayings of the foam of anti-Semitic waves. It was the first time he found himself distressed by something that jarred so discordantly the harmonious notes of his soul. He saw himself exposed to injustice, and in the position of compulsory defence his originally soft nature acquired a certain independence.
As a pupil he was orderly. Although he satisfied the demands, he in no wise displayed any special endowments. In the Gymnasium he made his first acquaintance with the elements of mathematics, which came to him with the force of a revelation. From the outset Albert proved to be a good solver of problems. His uncle, Engineer Jakob Einstein, introduced him to the secrets of algebra. His uncle Jakob made known to him on another occasion the sum and substance of the Pythagoric theorem, without giving any demonstration. In three weeks of most intense reflection Albert worked out the demonstration for himself. When he was 15 years old he was declared by his mathematics teacher to be ready for the University.
In the year 1894 his parents removed to Italy. Their comfortable existence came to an end. However, for the 15-year-old Albert the heavy chains of the school had been broken; attendance at school for the time being was out of the question. Soon Einstein pilgrimaged to Switzerland with the intention of studying mathematics and physics in the Zurich Polytechnic School. He, however, was not accepted in this institute and he went to Tarau, where he became a pupil in the Kantor school. The very beginnings of the relativity theory occurred during his studies at this time.
His material future caused the youth worry. He wanted to prepare himself for the position of school teacher. In the school of teachers of the Zurich Technical Institute he studied from the seventeenth to the twenty-first year of his life. From various quarters the prospect had been suggested to him of a post as assistant to a professor of physics. Here, as else-where, however, he was rejected. His being a Jew was the obstacle. As a non-Swiss, his stay in Milan had made him “a man without a country”; he was unable to get a post as teacher. In Schaffhausen and Bern he eked out a sorrowful existence as a private teacher. In 1903, at twenty-four, he married a South-Slavic student girl of the Catholic faith. After a number of years this marriage was dissolved.
In the year 1901, following a five-year residence in Switzerland, he obtained the right of citizenship in the city of Zurich, and with this the possibility finally emerged of his extricating himself from material difficulty. He was placed with the Swiss Patent Office, where he acted from 1902 to 1909 as technical expert, being preliminary examiner in patent applications.
In 1905 he began the publication of his scientic works which were to lead to the later epoch-making discoveries.
He had in view the obtaining of a University docentship. Difficulties beset his formal admission in Bern. And just when a chair was finally provided for him in Bern, Zurich stretched out its arms. There he was called in 1909 as special professor of theoretic physics in the University where he soon gathered round him a body of grateful students. In the Spring of 1914 he was called to the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin and was appointed to the Directorship of the newly-founded Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics. As a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences he had a faculty in the University. Here he ended his relativity work with the building up of the gravitation theory, the beginnings of which date back to 1907.
From the quiet residence of Albert Einstein in Haberlanstrasse of the district of Schoneberg in the city of Berlin wires are running all over the world; the works of other learned men concerning his theory have already reached 1,000 in number. Here, Mrs. Einstein pointed to a large bookcase with thick folio volumes, only a part of such works stacked one on top of the other. Einstein himself has been able to read only a part of them.
As a person with fresh natural impulses he cannot keep aloof from the activities of the world. Along with his work in the Intellectual Committee of the League of Nations, along with his activities for a re-establishment of the associations within the world of learned men, along with his participation in the fights against injustice to individuals and communities, for human rights of individuals and groups, he takes an interest, to an outstanding degree, in the upbuilding of the Jewish National Home in Palestine and devotes a good deal of time to it.