Einstein and the Royal Academy of Sciences in Madrid:

"Der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Madrid
in dankbarer Erinnerung an den März 1923
Albert Einstein."

"To the Academy of Sciences in Madrid
in thankful remembrance of March 1923
Albert Einstein."

Hand-written dedication of Einstein under his portrait photo, 1923

Einstein (1923): "A la Academia de Ciencias en Madrid, en recuerdo agradecido, marzo 1923."


Real Academia de Ciencias Exactas, Fisicas y Naturales

A short story of the Academy

The Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences in Madrid was founded on February 25, 1847 with the basic idea of the study and research in the areas of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and related sciences. The first elected President was  Excmo. Sr. D. Antonio Remón Zarco del Valle y Huet (1785-1866). His term of office began in 1848 and ended in 1866. The prototype of the Academy was already founded in 1582 during the reign of King Philipp II. (1527-1598) on initiative of the architect and mathematician Juan de Herrera (1530-1597) who also was its first President.

Today the Academy is financed by the Spanish government, by trusts and donations. The main activities of the Academy are regular meetings, the publication of scientific magazines as well as the organization of international symposiums, workshops and conferences. It furthermore advises the Spanish government with regard to scientific questions, and promotes science through popularizing programs. The Academy is comprised of full members, Spanish corresponding members, honorary members and foreign corresponding members.

Some known names of foreign corresponding members from earlier times shall be mentioned here in the chronological order of their nomination:

Michael Faraday, Alexander von Humboldt, Justus von Liebig, Hans Christian Oersted, Pieter Zeeman, Arnold Sommerfeld, Hendrik Antoon Lorentz, Ernest Rutherford, Marie Curie, William Henry Bragg, Erwin Schrödinger, Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, Max von Laue, Louis Victor de Broglie und Peter Debye.

One of the foreign corresponding members was Albert Einstein.

Real Academia de Ciencias Exactas, Fisicas y Naturales, www.rac.es  External link

Albert Einstein and the Royal Academy of Sciences in Madrid

Under the presidency of the Spanish King Alfons XIII (1886-1941) Albert Einstein received the diploma of a corresponding foreign member on Sunday, March 04, 1923. The king gave it to him personally. Before this the President of the Academy, Excmo. Sr. D. José Rodriguez Carracido (1856-1928), held a speech. The laudation was held by the Spanish physicist Blas Cabrera Felipe (1878-1945).

Excerpt from Einstein‘s written draft of his speech:

„Eure Majestät.

Hochverehrte Herren Kollegen. Nehmen Sie den Ausdruck meines tiefen Dankes dafür und meine Freude darüber entgegen, dass Sie mich durch die Wahl zu einem der Ihrigen gemacht haben. ... Einige Worte an Sie lieber Herr Cabrera. Ihre Worte sind mir tief zu Herzen gegangen, nicht die große Anerkennung, sondern das liebevolle und tiefe Eingehen auf den sachlichen Inhalt meiner Lebensarbeit. Das schalkhafte Dichterwort haben Sie beherzigt, "wir wollen weniger gelobt, doch fleißiger gelesen sein.".... Ich glaube, das geplagte und bedrückte Europa darf hoffnungsvoll auf dieses Volk blicken, das sich mit Energie der wissenschaftlichen Arbeit zuwendet, nachdem es uns auf dem Gebiet der Kunst so Großes gegeben hat."

“Your Majesty.

Esteemed colleagues. I feel very thankful and I am very pleased that you have made me one of your kind through the election. ... A few words to you, dear Mr. Cabrera. Your words have really pulled at my heartstrings, not the great recognition, but the lovingly and comprehensive agreement with the subject matter of my life work. You have considered the waggish literary quotation: "we want to be less praised, however, read more.".... I think the stricken and depressed Europe can look at these people full of hope, because they turn themselves to scientific work with lots of energy, after they have given us so much in the area of arts."


On this occasion the Spanish Minister for Arts and Sciences held a speech, at the end of which he offered the scholar to stay in Spain and guaranteed him the financial support of the government if the circumstances in his homeland should make it temporarily impossible for him to continue his research!

Source: Report of the German Embassy Madrid, March 19, 1923 to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin, [Germany]

In his travel log dated March 04, 1923 Einstein wrote:

„4. März Autofahrt mit Kocherthalers 1). Antwort auf Cabreras Akademierede geschrieben. Nachmittags Akademiesitzung mit Königs Vorsitz. Wunderbare Rede des Akad. Präsidenten 2). Dann Thee bei arist. Gesellschaftsdame. Abends zuhause aber ganz katholisch."

"March 04 car ride with Kocherthalers 1). Wrote answer to Cabrera‘s Academy speech. In the afternoon Academy meeting under the presidency of the King. Wonderful speech of the President of the Acad. 2). Then tea with arist. society lady. In the evening at home, however, quite catholic."

1) Einstein‘s relative
2) Excmo. Sr. D. José Rodriguez Carracido (1856-1928)

Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa were on a lecture tour through Spain with the stations Barcelona, Madrid and Zaragoza. They stayed in Spain from February 22 until March 15, 1923.

Einstein held contact (wrote letters) with the Academy as well as with single members far beyond his nomination as foreign corresponding member. His membership in the Royal Academy of Sciences in Madrid ended only with his death on April 18, 1955.


Editors: Diana Kormos Buchwald, Jòzsef Illy, Ze'ev Rosenkranz, Tilman Sauer The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Volume 13 Princeton 2012
Thomas F. Glick Einstein in Spain Princeton 1988
Siegfried Grundmann Einsteins Akte Berlin 1998, 2004

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