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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The plot to kill Einstein

Einstein got his United States citizenship in 1940. At the time, he'd been in the country for over seven years. He made his stay permanent in 1933, when Hitler gained power and Germany started becoming a terrible place for Jewish academics and intellectuals. First they were pushed from positions at state institutions and universities. Then officials turned on their ideas. For some time, German officials tried to credit Einstein's theory of relativity to German physicists.

This didn't work. Einstein was as famous in his own time as he is now, and people knew his accomplishments. The next official move, trying to ban the teaching of the theory altogether, lead to the dismissal of all physicists who refused. Finally, people simply attempted to ruin Einstein's name. An anti-Einstein society was founded, and the papers published mocking headlines about his move to America. Things got a lot less funny when a group of people began actively plotting to kill Einstein. It never made it past the conspiracy stage. The group was pretty public about their hatred of Einstein, and their plans, and it caught international attention. On the plus side, the man actively inciting the others to kill the most famous scientist of the age was caught and convicted. On the minus side, he was fined the equivalent of all of six dollars.

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