Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Einstein on Hitler

This following is from an unpublished manuscript written by Einstein in 1935 while at Princeton. After Einstein’s death it was published in the book Einstein on Peace. It is an unfiltered and raw look into Einstein’s thoughts on how and why Hitler came into power.

“To the everlasting shame of Germany, the spectacle unfolding in the heart of Europe is tragic and grotesque; and it reflects no credit on the community of nations which calls itself civilized!

For centuries the German people have been subject to indoctrination by an unending succession of schoolmasters and drill sergeants. The Germans have been trained in hard work and made to learn many things, but they have also been drilled in slavish submission, military routine and brutality. The postwar democratic Constitution of the Weimar Republic fitted the German people as well as the giant’s clothes fitted Tom Thumb. Then came inflation and depression, with everyone living under fear and tension.

Hitler appeared, a man with limited intellectual abilities and unfit for any useful work, bursting with envy and bitterness against all whom circumstance and nature had favored over him. Sprung from the lower middle class, he had just enough class conceit to hate even the working class which was struggling for greater equality in living standards. But it was the culture and education which had been denied him forever that he hated most of all. In his desperate ambition for power he discovered that his speeches, confused and pervaded with hate as they were, received wild acclaim by those whose situation and orientation resembled his own. He picked up this human flotsam on the streets and in the taverns and organized them around himself. This is the way he launched his political career.

But what really qualified him for leadership was his bitter hatred of everything foreign and, in particular, his loathing of a defenseless minority, the German Jews. Their intellectual sensitivity left him uneasy and he considered it, with some justification, as un-German.

Incessant tirades against these two “enemies” won him the support of the masses to whom he promised glorious triumphs and a golden age. He shrewdly exploited for his own purposes the centuries-old German taste for drill, command, blind obedience and cruelty. Thus he became the Fuehrer.

Money flowed plentifully into his coffers, not least from the propertied classes who saw him as a tool for preventing the social and economic liberation of the people which had its beginning under the Weimar Republic. He played up to the people with the kind of romantic, pseudo-patriotic phrase-mongering to which they had become accustomed in the period before the World War, and with the fraud about the alleged superiority of the “Aryan” or “Nordic” race, a myth invented by the anti-Semites to further their sinister purposes. His disjointed personality makes it impossible to know to what degree he might actually have believed in the nonsense which he kept dispensing. Those, however, who rallied around him or who came to the surface through the Nazi wave were for the most part hardened cynics fully aware of the falsehood of their unscrupulous methods.” —Albert Einstein


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