Einstein and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences:

"Er ist nicht nur der berühmteste, sondern auch der tiefste Denker auf naturphilosophischem
Gebiet seit Helmholtz und hat in den letzten 10 Jahren dem Ansehen der deutschen
Wissenschaft mehr genützt, als irgendein anderer."

aus dem Wahlvorschlag für Einstein zum korrespondierenden Mitglied der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften,
4. Februar 1927
 

"He is not only the most famous but also the deepest thinker in the area of natural philosophy
since Helmholtz and has in the last 10 years been of more use for the reputation of German
science than anyone else."

from the nomination proposal for Einstein as corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences,
February 4, 1927
 

EINSTEIN AND THE BAVARIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

A short history of the Academy

The Bavarian Academy of Sciences was founded by Elector Maximilian III Joseph in 1759. The heraldic motto of the Academy is "Tendit ad Aequum" - "It strives for the Adequate". Foundation President was Graf Sigmund von und zu Haimhausen. The foundation is first of all owed to Privy Councilor Johann Georg Lori (1723-1787) who had founded the Bavarian Scientists‘ Society in 1758. In the beginning the Academy was divided in two classes, a historical class and a philosophical class, whereas philosophy in the back then scientific understanding also comprised mathematics and physics.

The Academy was accommodated in the Wilhelminum since 1783, which is the previous main building of the Jesuit Order in Neuhauser Straße in Munich. In April 1944 the Wilhelminum was destroyed by the bombs of World War II. However, the Free State of Bavaria has created a new and worthy domicile for the Academy in the north-eastern wing of the Munich residence which could be moved into in the anniversary year 1959.

The Academy has full and corresponding members as well as honorary members. Right from the beginning the Academy selected its members without considering the religion and nationality. In this process the members were/are elected as members following the proposal of a full member. It is not possible to apply for a membership. At first the election took place in the corresponding class and then once again in the plenum, i.e. by both classes in joint session. Only full members are entitled to vote. Only persons are elected who have contributed to a “substantial expansion of the knowledge base” of their subject area. New members are elected once a year.

The number of full members who must have their residence within the Free State of Bavaria is limited to 45, the number of the corresponding members is limited to 80 in each class. In case of the limitation full members who are older than 70 years of age are excluded, so that there are approx. 120 full members as a rule. If a full member moves its residence in another federal state or abroad, it automatically receives the status of a corresponding member.

The Bavarian Academy can look back at a long tradition. Many famous and important scientists were members of the Academy, among them Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Justus von Liebig, Theodor Mommsen, Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt, Kurt Sethe, Max Planck, Otto Hahn, Albert Einstein, Max Weber, Arnold Sommerfeld, Alfred Pringsheim, Werner Heisenberg and Adolf Butenandt, to just name a few. Among them are many Nobel laureates.

______________________________________________________
 

Albert Einstein and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences

On February 19, 1927 Albert Einstein was appointed corresponding member of the mathematical-scientific class in the plenary session of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The nomination of February 4, 1927 (see above) came from the German physicist Arnold Sommerfeld (1868-1951) and was co-signed by further seven full members of the Academy. In the pre-election in the mathematical-scientific class there were only three votes against the nomination of Einstein, other than in the decisive election in the plenary session in which on the whole eight corresponding members of the class were electable. In this election Einstein nearly failed. The necessary three-quarters majority was only barely reached. From the 42 full members who were present, ten voted against him. The reasons therefore can only be speculation. Maybe Einstein‘s political attitude or the antisemitism played a role.

________________________________
 

"The voice of Albert Einstein marked the beginning of the national socialist area in the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The world-famous physicist who was a full member of the Berlin Academy since 1914 and a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy since 1927 had publicly shared his opinion concerning the political development in Germany at the time of the takeover and had left the Berlin Academy. When the Chair of the Bavarian Academy with the legal historian Prof. Dr. Leopold Wenger (1874-1953) in the lead (President) asked him for a personal statement Einstein answered on April 21, 1933 from the Belgian holiday resort Le Coq-sur-Mer, that the reasons for his retirement from the Prussian Academy would not "in and of itself" require a disengagement of his relationships to the Bavarian Academy. However, he wished to be cancelled from the members‘ list. Also the scientists‘ society Leopoldina in Halle a. d. Saale had excluded Einstein already in the beginning of the year 1933.
When the Academy after the end of World War II again wanted to contact Einstein through the mathematician and physicist Arnold Sommerfeld (1868-1951), who in the meantime lived and teached in the USA, he 'did not want to have anything more to do with Germans, also not with a relatively harmless academy'.“
 

Letter of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences to Albert Einstein:

"München, den 8. April 1933

Euer Hochwohlgeboren!

   Sie haben in Ihrem Schreiben an die Preußische Akademie der Wissenschaften Ihren Austritt mit den in Deutschland gegenwärtig herrschenden Zuständen motiviert. Die Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, die Sie vor einigen Jahren zum korrespondierenden Mitglied gewählt hat, ist ebenfalls eine deutsche Akademie, mit der Preußischen und den sonstigen Akademien in enger Solidarität verbunden, so daß Ihre Trennung von der Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften nicht ohne Einfluß auf Ihre Beziehungen zu unserer Akademie bleiben kann.
   Wir müssen Sie daher fragen, wie Sie nach dem, was zwischen Ihnen und der Preußischen Akademie vorgegangen ist, das Verhältnis zu unserer auffassen?

Das Präsidium der Bayerischen Akademie
der Wissenschaften"
 

"Munich, April 8, 1933

Dear high-born!

    In your letter to the Prussian Academy of Sciences you have motivated your retirement with the conditions which are prevailing in Germany. The Bavarian Academy of Sciences which nominated you some years ago as corresponding member is also a German Academy, which is connected with the Prussian and other Academies in close solidarity, so that your separation of the Prussian Academy of Sciences cannot remain without consequences to your relationships to our Academy.
    We must therefore ask you how you understand the relationship to our Academy after what happened between you and the Prussian Academy?

The Chair of the Bavarian Academy
of Sciences"

Einstein‘s reply:

"Le Coc-sur-Mer, den 21. April 1933

   Ich habe den Rücktritt von meiner Stellung an der Preußischen Akademie damit begründet, daß ich unter den obwaltenden Umständen weder deutscher Bürger sein noch in einer Art Abhängigkeitsverhältnis zu dem preußischen Unterrichtsministerium stehen wolle.
   Diese Gründe würden an und für sich eine Lösung meiner Beziehungen zur Bayerischen Akademie nicht bedingen. Wenn ich trotzdem wünsche, daß mein Name aus der Liste der Mitglieder gestrichen wird, so hat dies einen anderen Grund: Akademien haben in erster Linie die Aufgabe, das wissenschaftliche Leben eines Landes zu fördern und zu schützen. Die deutschen gelehrten Gesellschaften haben aber - soviel mir bekannt ist - es schweigend hingenommen, daß ein nicht unerheblicher Teil der deutschen Gelehrten und Studenten sowie der auf Grund einer akademischen Ausbildung Berufstätigen ihrer Arbeitsmöglichkeit und ihres Lebensunterhaltes in Deutschland beraubt wird. Einer Gesellschaft, die - wenn auch unter äußerem Druck - eine solche Haltung einnimmt, möchte ich nicht angehören."
 

"Le Coc-sur-Mer, April 21, 1933

    I have justified the retirement from my position at the Prussian Academy with the fact that I do not want to be a German citizen under the prevailing circumstances and do not want to dependent from the Prussian ministry of education.
    These reasons would not in and of itself require a disengagement of my relationships to the Bavarian Academy. However, if I nevertheless wish to have my name cancelled from the members‘ list this has another reason: Academies have first of all the task to promote and to protect the scientific life of a country. However, the German scientists‘ societies have – as far as I know – accepted without saying that most of the German scientists and students as well as the people working due to an academic education are deprived of their working possibilities and cannot earn their living in Germany. I do not want to be a member of such a society which – however, under pressure from the outside – takes such a stance."

Bibliography:

   
Albert Einstein Mein Weltbild Frankfurt am Main 1984
Hrsg. Armin Hermann Albert Einstein / Arnold Sommerfeld BRIEFWECHSEL Basel 1968
Reinhard Heydenreuter, Sylvia Krauss Helle Köpfe - Die Geschichte der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 1759 - 2009 Munich 2009
Monika Stoermer Albert Einstein und die Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften Munich 2005
 

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