…by Jonas E. Alexis
When Hitler came to power in 1933, he single-handedly shut down the sexual laboratory which Jewish revolutionaries such as Magnus Hirschfield and Ivan Bloch had established. Moreover, Hitler shut down the vast majority of the sex/entertainment industry which revolutionaries made possible in Germany.
In the early 1920s, Berlin was “the vice-ridden scum” which produced all kinds of sexual activities. “People from all over the industrialized world flocked to Berlin to be part of this experiment, if only for a short while.” Philo-Semitic historian Paul Johnson himself declares,
“The Foxtrot and short skirts, the addiction of pleasure in ‘the imperial sewers of Berlin,’ the ‘dirt pictures’ of sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld or the typical man of the times took on in the minds of the average citizen a repugnance that is difficult to recall in hindsight without some historical effort. In a number of highly celebrated provocations, the stage of the ‘20s dealt with topics like patricide, incest and other crimes and the deepest inclination of the times tended to self-mockery.”
A number of Jewish icons such as George Gershwin, Ben Hecht, Douglas Fairbanks, Sergei Eisenstein visited Hirschfeld’s Institute. Eisenstein “enjoyed the Institute’s collection of sailor-dolls—homemade paper toys that German homosexuals fashioned during the Great War.”
The library of the school,
“which contained the largest sex and pornographic book collection in Europe, remained accessible to all readers…Politically, the Institute provided a forum for progressive lawyers and government officials who sought to eradicate the laws against homosexuality and defend Germany’s legal abortion rights from the growing onslaught of fascist and religious parties. Most of the legal work involved suits protecting gay men against threats of petty blackmail….The Institute itself was a font of sexological activity. Pediatric care, abortions, ‘sexual rejuvenation’ and sexual ‘correction’ operations were conducted on the lower level of the main building.”
Even D. H. Lawrence, himself a proponent of sexual liberation, knew that the Weimar Republic had become a place for sexual debauchery, writing in a letter that “at night you feel strange things stirring in the darkness…There is a sense of danger…a queer, bristling feeling of uncanny danger.”
Later, Christopher Isherwood, a homosexual and proponent of sexual liberation, went to Berlin to immerse himself into the gay bars, writing later, “There was terror in the Berlin air.”
But the sexual moment of that period was indeed short-lived largely because Hitler overturned the plans of Hirshfield and other sexual ideologues like Freud and Wilhelm Reich by making life a living hell for them. In fact, both Freud and Reich left Germany when Hitler came to power and moved to the United States.
In January of 1941, Reich discussed his sex economy with Albert Einstein for nearly five hours. When Einstein thought that anti-Semitism was on the rise in Germany, Reich wrote him a letter saying that he had discovered “specific biologically effective energy which behaves in many respects differently to all that is known about electromagnetic energy.”
For Reich, this “biologically effective energy” could be used “in the fight against the Fascist pestilence.” And this sexualized ideology would be a “rival, perhaps, to the incipient atomic bomb.” For Reich, sexual ideologies are like atomic bombs. They have the power to destroy lives.
We never know how much influence Reich had on Einstein, or vice versa, but it was pretty clear that both individuals understood each other. At one point, “Reich told his wife ‘how exciting it was to talk to someone who knew the background of these physical phenomena, who had immediate grasp of the implications.”
Einstein himself tried to do some experiment with Reich’s “orgonoscope.” Reich, in his desperate attempt to deconstruct morality, tried to use physics to justify his own sexual theories. This was called “orgone accumulator,” but it simply didn’t work scientifically.
Einstein ended up abandoning Reich’s illusionary experiment altogether. For Reich, Einstein simply did not want to lose his scientific credibility by allying himself with Reich’s theory.
Reich later wrote, “It was understandable that Einstein did not want to contribute to the collapse of his life’s work, although this would have been demanded by strict scientific objectivity…”
Reich’s ideology did not gain a scientific ground, but it surely was politicized. Moreover, Einstein did not really need “orgonoscope” to rationalize his sexual freedom. But the question for us is simply this: Was Einstein a plagiarist, a wife beater, and a eugenicist?
Einstein, the Man
By 1912, Einstein was already on the road of sexual excess, despite the fact that he was already married to Mileva Maric.
Einstein met Mileva at the Polytechnic in Zurich, where they both had a keen interest in physics. They eventually got married on January 6, 1903, but due to Einstein’s sexual adventure and abuse, the marriage turned into a complete disaster.
Einstein, like Charles Darwin before him, embarked on a sexual relationship with his cousin Elsa Einstein, who “had been divorced since 1908 and had two daughters, aged fifteen and thirteen.”
This grieved his wife even more. Hans C. Ohanian, another biographer, writes that when Einstein arrived in Berlin, he
“did not spend much time at home. Sometimes he would disappear for a week, leaving Mileva ignorant of his whereabouts. Mileva suspected he was spending days and nights in the arms of the plump and eager Elsa….We do not know how Mileva found out about the adulterous liaison. But we do now that in July, after a violent quarrel, she suddenly moved out of their apartment and, with the boys, went to live in the home of the Haber family.”
On October 10, Einstein wrote to Elsa saying that Mileva “is the most sour sourpuss that ever existed. I shudder at the thought of seeing her and you together. She will writhe like a worm if she sees you even from afar!”
Mileva later complained that “we are a bit unimportant to him and that we take second place.”
Mileva’s complaint was not without evidence. Einstein himself wrote to Elsa, “I treat my wife as an employee whom I cannot fire. I have my own bedroom and avoid being alone with her.”
Writer Michele Zackheim declares,
“Mileva had planned to accompany Albert to Paris, where on March 26, 1913, he was giving a lecture on the law of photochemical equivalence. But on March 14, Lisbeth Hurtwitz, the daughter of family friends, wrote in her diary that she and her mother had visited Mileva and were shocked to see Mileva with her face badly bruised and swollen. Albert explained that it was caused by a dental problem. Mileva would not answer her friends’ inquiries. Albert traveled to Paris alone.”
Zackheim says that even after all the humiliation, “Mileva persisted in trying to hold her marriage together.” Then Albert unleashed a list of unreasonable demands to Mileva, which the Daily Mail called “a misogynistic manifesto”:
“Albert decided that if Mileva wanted to stay married to him she would have to obey his rules: ‘A. you will see to it (1) that my clothes and linen are kept in order, (2) that I am served three regular meals a day in my room, (3) that my bedroom and study are kept in good order and that my desk is not touched by anyone other than me.
“‘B. You will renounce all personal relations with me, except when they are required to keep up social appearance. In particular you will not request (1) that I sit with you at home, (2) that I go out with you or travel with you.
“‘C. You will promise explicitly to observe the following points in any contact with me: (1) you will expect no affection from me and you will not reproach me for this, (2) you must answer me at once when I speak to you, (3) you must leave my bedroom or study at once without protesting when I ask you to go.
“‘D. You will promise not to denigrate me in the eyes of the children, either by word or by deed. Ever since you have been in Berlin, you have become quite nasty. You should know that people take an interest in the way the great man [himself, of course] behaves.”
Shortly thereafter, Einstein wrote to a friend, “Life without my wife is a veritable rebirth for me personally.” He continued to humiliate his lovely wife throughout his life, saying things like,
“Had I known you twelve years ago as I know you now, I would have viewed my responsibilities toward you at that time quite differently.”
And then this: Mileva, Einstein declared,
“is and will forever remain for me an amputated limb. I will never again be close to her. I will finish my days far from her, feeling this is absolutely necessary.”
“Mileva still hoped that he might come back to her. Perhaps she thought that the longer he remained on his own, the better chance there was of finding a peaceful solution and keeping the family intact.
“After all, he had told her that he liked being a bachelor and that his autonomy ‘revealed itself as an indescribable blessing to me.’ She could not believe that he was asking for a divorce—it could only mean that he wanted to remarry.”
In 1919, when the marriage between the two partners was finally over, Einstein’s own statement seemed to have confirmed that he did indeed get involved in physical abuse. He specifically declared to the court that he had
“no accusations against the plaintiff [his wife]….During the marriage there have been numerous scenes because of differences of opinion where on the part of the plaintiff verbal and physical abuse occurred to which I in a state of irritation…responded…
“It is true that I committed adultery. I have been living for approximately four and one-half years with my cousin, the widow Elsa Lowenthal, and since then I have had intimate relations with her.
“My wife, the plaintiff, has been informed that I have had intimate relations with my cousin since the summer of 1914. She expressed her indignations to me.”
Einstein’s sexual exploration did not stop when he me Elsa. After four years of marriage with Elsa, he moved his sexual relativity to Bette Neumann, his secretary. Prior to that, he also wanted to marry Elsa’s daughter, Ilse. Ilse told a friend,
“Yesterday, suddenly the question was raised about whether A. wished to marry Mama or me….Albert himself is refusing to take any decision, he is prepared to marry either Mama or me.
“I know that A. loves me very much, perhaps more than any other man ever will, he also told me so himself yesterday….[But] I have never wished nor felt the least desire to be close to him physically….
“A. also thought that if I did not wish to have a child of his it would be nicer for me not to be married to him. And I truly do not have this wish….I do not know whether it really would be fair—after all [my mother’s] years of struggle—[if] I were to compete with her over the place she had won for herself, now that she is finally at the goal.”
When the divorce between Einstein and Mileva finally occurred, “Mileva never remarried. Albert, on the other hand, was only just beginning his romantic exploits. He continued his pursuit of women and his extramarital affairs long after his marriage to Elsa.”
Zackheim writes, “Clearly, Albert had no patience with and very little respect for women. The only female scientist to whom he accorded a modicum of respect was Marie Curie, and even that he could not do without qualification…Even from Elsa, he kept his distance. Once when she referred to the two of them as ‘us,’ Albert retorted, ‘talk about you or me but never about us.”
Perhaps the most shocking of all, the evidence from Zackheim suggests that Einstein had abandoned his only daughter, Liesel, because she was believed to be mentally handicapped. Einstein’s younger son, Eduard, or “Tete,” born in 1910,
“developed schizophrenia as a young man, apparently in consequence of a disturbing love affair with an older woman….After Mileva’s death in 1948, Tete was placed with foster families and then again confined until his own death in 1965. Einstein made a quick visit to Tete at the Burgholzli in 1933, before leaving for the United States. After that, he broke off all contact and sent no letters…”
WAS EINSTEIN A PLAGIARIZER?
Mathematician Roger Schlafly has recently revived the long-forgotten argument that much of what is credited to Einstein has been the work of others. The noted mathematician Henri Poincare and physicist Hendrik Lorentz wrote about relativity long before Einstein ever thought about the topic. Einstein just made them popular without giving credit to whom it is due.
This point was articulated by a British mathematician and historian of science Sir Edmund T. Whittaker (1873-1956), who wrote in his work A History of the Theories of Aether & Electricity that the equation E = mc2 was the creation of Lorentz and Poincare.
“Einstein’s friend and colleague Max Born had even tried to persuade Whittaker not to publish this opinion,” but Born himself later admitted that it was highly plausible that Einstein got his idea from Poincare. Similar points were made by Russian physicist A. A. Logunov in his book Henri Poincare and Relativity Theory.
It was after he was confronted with this fact by Whittaker that Einstein hoped that posterity would give Lorentz and Poincare some credit to the theory. As biographer Albrecht Folsing puts it,
“After nearly half a century this was the first time that Einstein ever mentioned Poincare in connection with the special relativity theory.”
Biographer Dennis Brian, however, declared that the charge that Einstein got some of his work from somewhere else has little weight. The evidence? No one, not even Poincare, argues Brian, has ever charged Einstein of plagiarism.
But Brian failed to mention that Lorentz came close to saying that Einstein snatched relativity out of his hand: “Einstein simply postulates what we [Lorentz and Poincare] have deduced.”
“On every essential part of special relativity, Poincare published the same idea years earlier, and said it better. It was Lorentz’s and Poincare’s work, not Einstein’s, that led to time being considered the fourth dimension.”
Shlafly continues to say that while historians “prefer to credit Einstein” for the theory, “no one can dispute the fact that Poincare discovered all the elements of special relativity with help from Lorentz and others, published them before Einstein, and developed a theory that was either identical or observationally equivalent to Einstein’s.”
Einstein’s 1905 paper in particular “fails to cite any references to the scientific literature. The failure is extremely odd,” since “the best mathematical physicists in Europe had been writing papers on the subject for ten years, and Einstein did not cite any of them.”
Einstein “uses some of Poincare’s terminology without mentioning Poincare’s name. Einstein is not just sloppy; he is artfully vague about his sources.” Here is how Einstein defended his position:
“It appears to me that it is the nature of business that what follows has already been partly solved by other authors. Despite that fact, since the issues of concern are here addressed from a new point of view, I am entitled to leave out a thoroughly pedantic survey of the literature…”
When Einstein was getting negative reviews for his theory, he quickly jumped to the anti-Semitism trump card, which obviously shocked many of the scientists who were reviewing his work.
Part of this article was first published in the winter of 2017.
-  See for example Janet Ward, Weimar Surfaces: Urban Visual Culture in 1920s Germany (Berkley: University of California Press, 2001); Mel Gordon, Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin (Los Angeles: Feral House, 2006); for similar studies, see Noah Isenberg, ed., Weimar Cinema: An Essential Guide to Classic Films of the Era (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009); Janet Ward, Weimar Surfaces: Urban Visual Culture in 1920s Germany (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001); Alexandra Richie, Faust’s Metropolis: A History of Berlin (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1998).
-  David Clay Large, Berlin (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 96.
-  Ibid., 157.
-  Paul Johnson, Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties (New York: Harper & Row, 1983), 1991), 115.
-  Gordon, Voluptuous Panic, 165-166.
-  Ibid., 165-166.
-  Ibid., 165.
-  Ibid., 171-183.
-  Quoted in Denis Brian, Einstein: A Life (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), 326.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid., 327.
-  See for example Robert S. Corrington, Wilhelm Reich: Psychoanalyst and Radical Naturalist (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003), 189-192.
-  Ibid., 191
-  Michele Zackheim, Einstein’s Daughter: The Search for Lieserl (New York: Riverhead Books, 1999), 64.
-  Hans C. Ohanian, Einstein’s Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008), 208.
-  Zackheim, Einstein’s Daughter, 64.
-  Ibid., 65.
-  Ibid., 66.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Deborah Arthurs, “Was Einstein the world’s worst husband? Wife ordered to keep room tidy, serve three meals a day – but expect NO affection… and she must stop talking when he demands it,” Daily Mail, April 23, 2012.
-  Ibid., 69; see also Ohanian, Einstein’s Mistakes, 208-209; Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007), 185.
-  Zackheim, Einstein’s Daughter, 70.
-  Ibid., 71.
-  Ibid., 74.
-  Ibid., 72.
-  Ibid., 78.
-  Ibid., 76-77.
-  Ibid., 79.
-  Ibid., 80.
-  Ohanian, Einstein’s Mistakes, 235-236.
-  Roger Schlafly, How Einstein Ruined Physics: Motion, Symmetry, and Revolution in Science (Create Space, 2011), 115.
-  Ibid., 114.
-  Ibid., 133.
-  Denis Brian, The Unexpected Einstein: The Real Man Behind the Icon (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2005), 198.
-  Quoted in Schlafly, How Einstein Ruined Physics, 116.
-  Schlafly, How Einstein Ruined Physics, 11.
-  Ibid., 117.
-  Ibid., 128.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid., 112.
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book, Kevin MacDonald’s Metaphysical Failure: A Philosophical, Historical, and Moral Critique of Evolutionary Psychology, Sociobiology, and Identity Politics. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.