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'Einstein Saved Jews from the Nazis'

Arutz Sheva speaks with the curator of the Hebrew University's Einstein Archives, now available in a newly-launched website.
By Elad Benari & Yoni Kempinski
First Publish: 3/20/2012, 5:13 AM

Arutz Sheva visited on Monday the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s press conference, in which it launched the updated and expanded Einstein Archives website, which contains a complete catalog of more than 80,000 documents in the University’s Einstein Archives.

The archive includes more than 40,000 documents contained in Albert Einstein’s personal papers and over 30,000 additional Einstein and Einstein-related documents discovered, since the 1980s, by the Einstein Archives staff and the editors of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein.

“Einstein was very involved in Jewish projects after he moved to Berlin, and his involvement became stronger and stronger over the years,” said Dr. Ronny Gross, Curator of Einstein Archives. “He became very interested in the political situation in the Middle East. He advocated that Jews and Arabs should live in a combined state, and in 1947 he was against an independent Jewish state, but this changed in 1948 during the War of Independence, when he saw that the Arabs were preparing for war and that there would be no possibility for one state for Jews and Arabs.”

He noted the Einstein identified with the Jewish people only in his later years.

“A fact that is not well-known is that in the late 1930s, when Jews were discriminated against and were endangered in Europe and Einstein had already been in America, he helped quite a few Jews, especially from the scientific community, escape Nazi Germany,” said Gross.

Gross said that Einstein was a pacifist all his life but became concerned when he believed, in 1939, that Nazi Germany would be developing a nuclear weapon. This prompted him to send a letter to then-U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, telling him that America should develop a similar weapon in order to defeat the Nazis.

“Of course, it turned out in hindsight that the Nazis were far from a nuclear bomb, but it was impossible to know that at the time,” said Gross. “He was very sorry that his support of nuclear research resulted in the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, but in 1939 he was really concerned that the Nazis would win the war with a nuclear bomb.”

To view the Einstein Archives, visit www.alberteinstein.info