History of Albert Einstein
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Published: Mon, 12 Mar 2018
- Reiyyan Tariq Nizami
Albert Einstein –
The Political Activist behind the Physicist
Albert Einstein is a name known by nearly every child who has the luxury of learning about science and physics. Throughout the world he is known for his remarkable work in physics where he developed the theory of relativity. However most know him for his infamous mass – energy equivalence formula E=mc2. Einstein received a Nobel Prize in physics in 1921 for his fabulous work. Everyone knows about his work in physics but few know about the political side of Einstein. He was alive during many wars and he always tried to help as many people as he could. Albert Einstein was a great physicist and political activist and an even better humanitarian.
Albert Einstein was born on March 14th 1879 in Ulm, Germany to a Jewish family. From a young age Einstein showed a great interest in mathematics and physics and eventually obtained a diploma from Swiss Federal Polytechnic School. He eventually became a Swiss citizen and started working as a technical assistant at the patent office. In 1905 he obtained a PhD from the University of Zurich. His dissertation was called “A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions” in which he discussed Avogadro’s constant. This was just the beginning for the great physicist’s accomplishments.
Later on in the same year Einstein wrote four papers which are sometimes referred to as the Annus Mirabilis papers. Annus Mirabilis is Latin for Great or Miraculous Year, the year was indeed great for Albert Einstein. The four papers he wrote held great weight in the physics community and changed the way people viewed many aspects of physics. The four papers were written on Photoelectric Effect, Brownian motion, Special Relativity and Mass-Energy equivalence. These papers brought Einstein into the spotlight in the world of physics.
In the following years Einstein was more and more successful. In 1908 he was given a teaching position at the University of Bern. The next year he got an offer to work at the University of Zurich and a few years later he got a position to teach at Charles-Ferdinand University in what was then known as Czechoslovakia. He later returned to Germany to work at Kaiser Wilhelm Society as a director. The Kaiser Wilhelm Society was setup to encourage the study of natural sciences in Germany. He was also given a professorship at Humboldt University of Berlin however he did not teach there much. Next Albert Einstein went on to become the president of the German Physical Society. All of these positions of great honor and stature were given to Albert Einstein for his brilliant work in Physics.
From 1907 to 1915 Einstein worked on his General Theory of Relativity. This was by far one of Einstein’s greatest gift to the scientific community. However during these years the theory was met with different controversies from different people. He was awarded a Nobel Prize in physics in 1921 which was awarded for his work with the photoelectric effect. He did however receive recognition for his work in relativity in 1925 when he received the Copley Medal, which is given to scientists who have greatly contributed to any field of science by the Royal Society. Albert Einstein definitely deserved these rewards for all the great contributions he gave to the world of physics.
Einstein was widely respected throughout Germany and the world for his great contributions to the world of physics. However he was also despised by many people for various reasons, such as, some people didn’t believe in his science and others hated him for his religion. A Jews life in Germany in 1930s was one filled with great danger at all times. This was because of the far right wing party National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) known to many people as the Nazi party. They held a belief that the Aryan race was the strongest purest race and other races were inferior especially the Jews. If someone happened to be a famous person and a Jew, as Albert Einstein was, then their life was in grave danger.
Being the famous person he was Albert Einstein travelled all over the place giving lectures and continued his work on physics. In 1933 the German far right wing Nazi party came to power. Their views were extremely Fascist and included but weren’t limited to anti-Semitism and racial purity. Lucky for Albert Einstein he was not in Germany during this time, he was in fact taking a trip to the Pasadena, California in the United States of America with his family where he was a visiting professor for a short time at the California institute of Technology. When Albert Einstein heard of the Nazi party coming to power in 1933 he and his family decided to stay away from Germany. They instead decided to travel to Belgium where they stayed for a few months. During his journey Albert Einstein was informed that his house was broken into by the Nazis and his possessions had been confiscated. Albert Einstein decided he no longer wanted to be associated with Germany and gave away his citizenship of Germany.
Eventually the Nazi party implanted harsher and harsher laws against Jews in Germany. The atmosphere in Germany was getting worse and worse for any Jewish person and every one of them were trying to flee the country for their lives. Albert Einstein was being targeted by his enemies in every way possible. His scientific achievements were being tarnished by Nazi scientists, his writings were burned by the Nazis and he was officially listed an enemy of the state in Germany and there was a bounty on his head for $5,000. Albert Einstein decided that staying in Europe was not an option for him and so he took his family and moved to Princeton in New Jersey where he stayed for the rest of his life away from the threats to him from the German Nazi party. The Nazi party put Albert Einstein under a lot of pressure but this only made him a stronger advocate of war and further increased his desire for peaceful resolutions to problems.
Over the years that the Nazi party was holding power in Germany Albert Einstein was working hard to try to give the Jews in Europe a way to escape Hitler’s grasp. Albert Einstein wrote letters to the United States of America asking them to give European Jews visas to enter the United States to escape torture at the hands of the Nazis. Albert Einstein pleaded to the United States to make immigration easier for his people. This was the start of a long political path for Albert Einstein.
Einstein kept trying harder and harder to provide ways to rescue his friends from oppression in Germany. Finally in 1933 Albert Einstein was able to get the wheels in motion and the International Rescue Committee was created which over the years saved multiple thousands of people from not only Germany but also from Italy, France, Spain and many other European countries. If it wouldn’t have been for Albert Einstein a majority of those people would have ended up dying to the hands of one dictator or another.
Einstein was also a man of strong morals, throughout the whole German war he stood strong and tried to help people being oppressed by the Nazis in the best way that he could do so. He appealed to governments to help the oppressed and used his fame and connection in every way possible to help people. After the war had ended Germans wanted to have Einstein come home as a hero and give him rewards for his support to those that needed help. However Albert Einstein declined any such rewards, he said that he was extremely upset with the way that Germany let the genocide of 6 million Jews take place. He never went back to Germany after 1933 and did not like to be associated with them. He stood up for what he believed was right even if it was his home country and that made him a true hero.
After the war had ended the whole world was trying to find a home for the Jewish community. A country that they could call their own and live in peace without any kind of oppression from any other race or religion. Many people came to decide that the Jews should have their own home in the holy land, Palestine. Albert Einstein was in support of this idea, what better place to call home then the land of Moses, the prophet of the Jews. However Albert Einstein had a different approach to the rest of the world. He believed that instead of creating a state for the Jews protected by weapons and an army. He believed that the Jews and the Arabs could live together in harmony peacefully.
As the Jewish state of Israel was being created Einstein was still opposed to their actions. Albert Einstein joined with a few others together sent a letter to the New York Times in which they condemned the actions of Menachem Begin, an Israeli politician for the right wing Herut political party, for the massacre of Arab villages. The authors of the letter compared the massacre to what Hitler and the Nazi party did in Germany with their fascist views and they warned the world of terrible things to come if the right wing party came to power. This showed great courage and morality of Albert Einstein, he was going against his own religion to do what was right and this made him a great leader for people.
In fact Albert Einstein was so loved by the people of Israel and Jews around the world that he was offered the position of being the president of Israel. However he declined the offer kindly as he believed he was not the right man for the job as he lacked the experience and the skills to work in such a position of power. He decided that he could do more work for the world from behind his desk compared to the desk of the president of Israel. This showed that Albert Einstein was working not to gain power of any sort but to do the right thing and that is a quality that is rarely see in people, especially political activists.
Albert Einstein was looked down at by the Nazi party and their supporters throughout his life in Germany. This made him all too familiar with the feeling of Anti-Semitism discrimination which he fought against throughout his life. However this was not the only type of discrimination he fought against. Albert Einstein was also fighting the fight for civil rights for African Americans. He worked with many various organizations to help African Americans obtain equality and to get rid of racism. There are many times during his life when Albert Einstein homed and supported African Americans who were oppressed by the white man. This shows how great of a humanitarian Albert Einstein was, he really did not see race or religion, he saw humanity and felt the urge to help them.
Of great significance were the events of a racial riot in Tennessee which took place in 1946 known as the Columbia Race Riot. The police in Tennessee had been injured while they were going to enter a segregated African American business district. Later on the white Americans and the police raided the African American business district and stole money and weapons and other goods from their stores and arrested several African American men on alleged murder charges. These men weren’t provided any legal counsel and were going to be punished but the actions of Thurgood Marshall, a member of the United States Supreme Court, supported by Albert Einstein and a few other supporters of civil rights fought to free the wrongfully accused African American men.
Albert Einstein felt so strongly about the discrimination against African Americans and he used his fame and power to condemn it in every way possible. He gave lectures, speeches and even wrote letters to politicians throughout the government. He went so far as to communicating with the president of the United States, Harry S. Truman. In his letters Albert Einstein condemned the racial discrimination and urged the president to pass anti-lynching laws. Albert Einstein was not afraid of anyone when it came to equality and civil rights for any race, he spoke his mind freely.
Throughout most of his life Albert Einstein was a pacifist, a man who tried to help the weak and wanted to achieve harmony throughout the world in a peaceful manner. However sometimes there is not an option for a peaceful way. In 1939 this was the situation
albert Einstein found himself in. German scientists were attempting to develop a nuclear weapon and if they succeeded this would be ill news for the rest of the world. Having firsthand experience of what the Nazis were capable of Albert Einstein and a few other scientists, many who also suffered at the hands of the Nazis, decided to urge the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt to develop their own nuclear weapon as a defensive strategy against the Nazis in case they developed a Nuclear weapon. Hence began the Nuclear arms race and this was the biggest regret of Einstein later on in his life. This was a very difficult decision for Einstein as a political activist and many argue that if he had to do it again he may not have made the same decision.
Indeed if Albert Einstein knew that the United States would end up using the Nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and that the Nazis would fail to develop any Nuclear weapons then he would have never suggested their development. However under pressure and fear of Nazi world dominance Albert Einstein made a decision which resulted in the death of many innocent Japanese people. Later on in his life Albert Einstein tried to correct his mistakes and wrote an article where he suggested that United States should not be an atomic power, instead they should give the Atomic power to the United Nations to deter other dictators and nations from trying to develop weapons.
It seems throughout his life Einstein was in the middle of some sort of war. He lived through World War 1 and 2 and when those finally ended he was right in the center of the cold war. During his work in World War 2 Albert Einstein developed strong ties with many political activists and politicians in the west as well as in the east, in specific with the soviets. Anyone who was remotely tied to the soviets was being accused of treason and disloyalty, this practice was called McCarthyism. At the head of the anti-communist movement were U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Federal Bureau of Investigation directed by J. Edgar Hoover. Once again Albert Einstein did all that he could to help innocent people who were the victims of McCarthyism.
Albert Einstein publicly advised all the victims of McCarthyism to apply the non-cooperation movement much like Gandhi did in India with the British Empire. His rational was that if everyone did not cooperate with the government then they would not have anything and would eventually give up. Albert Einstein compared Joseph McCarthy to Hitler and his fascist ways. Albert Einstein was so displeased with the acts of the government that ignored any risks to his reputation and he fought for his political beliefs. He went so far as to say that he would be willing to go to jail if he had to but he would stick to what he felt was right. Joseph McCarthy and the FBI were never able to find concrete evidence against Albert Einstein and so Albert Einstein lived a free man who continued to struggle for freedom.
Even in his last days on this planet Einstein continued his work to prevent wars in the future and to stop nuclear development. Albert Einstein’s biggest fear was that his work in physics which was key in the development of the Atomic Bomb would be the weapon that annihilates all of mankind. It is widely known knowledge that Einstein said “I do not know how the third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth — sticks and stones.” This was to signify that the world would be destroyed by nuclear weapons before the fourth world war. In his last week’s Einstein wrote a manifesto with Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher, the manifesto discussed the dangers of nuclear warfare. The Russell–Einstein Manifesto was key in the development of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. This conference brings forth leaders and scientists from around the world to discuss ways to mitigate the dangers of war and to find peaceful resolutions to issues.
Through his entire life Albert Einstein was working to stop wars and help the victims of wars. At the same time he was also busy doing research in physics. He worked on developing a Unified field theory, he studied wormholes, and of course he continued his own research on quantum mechanics as well. While he did all this he also helped free Jews, African Americans and other people being oppressed.
How one man can inspire the whole world is remarkable and speaks to volumes the power of the human brain. Throughout his life Einstein influenced many and even today his theories are used to develop and understand physics and the natural world. The man was a remarkable physicist and he was rewarded for that in many ways from the Nobel Prize to professorships around the world. Unfortunately his political and humanitarian work was not recognized and rewarded like his work in physics was. Albert Einstein was a great political activist and he was one of the best humanitarian known to mankind.
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