Einstein and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences:
nicht nur der berühmteste, sondern auch der tiefste Denker auf
dem Wahlvorschlag für Einstein zum korrespondierenden Mitglied der
Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften,
not only the most famous but also the deepest thinker in the area of
from the nomination proposal for Einstein as
corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences,
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.
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
Letter of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences to Albert Einstein:
"München, den 8. April 1933
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.
Präsidium der Bayerischen Akademie
"Munich, April 8, 1933
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.
The Chair of the Bavarian Academy
"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
"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.
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