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Life Too Short to Bother About Gift, Einstein Tells Berlin City Fathers

May 16, 1929
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Life, alas, is too short to bother with an honorary gift, whose process of granting is so long, was the caustic reply given by Prof. Albert Einstein to the Berlin city fathers who were still contemplating the making good of their announcement to honor the scientist by presenting him with a gift in behalf of the city on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday which he celebrated on March 14.

The famous scientist, annoyed and irritated at the dissension in the council and the many changes in the form of the gift, wrote a letter to the City Mayor requesting him “to cease all efforts for providing me with a quiet home.” This rejection of the gift was final on the part of Prof. Einstein, those close to him declaring that he arrived at this decision with great difficulty, but that he finally was convinced that the honor which the council sought to bestow upon him has turned into a degradation.

When this letter reached the Mayor, members of the Berlin city government attempted to influence the Professor to withdraw his letter, but the scientist categorically declared that his decision was final. The bill of grant, asking for the allottment of 20,000 marks for the purchase of a site to be given to Dr. Einstein, still pending in the council and opposed by the anti-Semitic councillors of the Deutschnationale party, was withdrawn.

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