The majority of the world knows Albert Einstein as a man who distinguished himself for his humanitarian and cosmopolitan views. Indeed, once he had characterized racism as a “disease of white people”.
However, as the private calendars of the period between October 1922 and March 1923, which the famous physicist kept about his travels to China and other Asian countries, may have been, at some point in his life, not so free from prejudice against people who did not belong to the white race.
In China, Einstein described the people who looked around him “hardworking, dirty and slow-moving” and noted that “the Chinese do not sit on stalls when they eat but on their heels, like Europeans when they relieve their needs in the forest.” Somewhere else he noticed that “even the children show inanimate and evening”, he spoke of the “great reproductive capacity” of the Chinese and the “abundance of offspring”, expressing his concern that “it would be a pity if these Chinese substitute all the others races. For all of us, only thinking is inconceivably boring. ”
Zeev Rosenkracht, deputy director of the Einstein Archives Program at the California Institute of Technology, who edited and translated the jokes to date in English “Einstein’s Travel Calendars”, was placed on his statements to the British Guardian.
“I think many of his comments shock us as particularly unpleasant, especially what he says about the Chinese. They somehow contradict its public image as a great humanitarian symbol. It is a shock to read those comments that were not intended for publication and to compare them with the most public statements, “he said.
These calendars, to date, were published only in German in the 15 volumes of all Einstein writings, and are now published in a separate volume in English by Princeton University editions. According to the latter, “this is the first time Einstein’s travel calendar will be available to anyone, not just to the serious scholars of his work.”
As the Einstein couple traveled to Spain, the Middle East and Asia, the calendars seem to have been written to be read in Berlin by the daughters his wife had since her previous marriage.
At another point, it was again mentioned for the Chinese – who seem to have not been at all – that “even when they are forced to work like horses, they never give the impression that they are suffering consciously. It’s a strange country like a herd … that reminds me rather of people rather than people. ”
While, as well as a strong dose of misogyny, he noticed “how little difference there is between men and women. I do not understand what sort of fatal charm the Chinese have to attract men to such an extent that they do not resist the temptation of childbirth with them. ”
In Keilaan (today Sri Lanka), Einstein saw locals around him “living in great dirt and remarkable bokeh”, adding that “little is done and little is needed. The simple economic cycle of life “.
More positive are their impressions of the Japanese, which characterized them as “no demonstrations, as they must, very charming”. For Japan, he said that “no one should love and admire this country,” but without forgetting to comment that “the mental needs of this country seem to be less patient than artistic ones because of physical propensity.”
Rosenkrats admitted that such annotations about the biological origins of the allegedly inferior intellectual inferiority of Japanese, Chinese, and Hindu people “can certainly be considered racist as other peoples are presented as biologically inferior – a clear feature of racism.”
As he said, fearing that the Chinese may one day offset all other tribes, “Einstein perceives a foreign” race “as a threat, which is also one of the characteristics of racist ideology.” While even more offensive to today’s data, she added, she was wondering how it is possible for a Chinese to find a Chinese woman sufficiently attractive to have a child with her.
“We have to conclude that Einstein made quite racist and inhumane comments in his diary, some of which are extremely unpleasant,” Rosenkredit said. “It seems that even Einstein sometimes struggled to recognize himself in the face of the other,” he concluded.