EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1955). Partly printed document signed twice ("Einstein" and "A. Einstein"), March-May 1920. One page, 4to (8 7/8 x 11 3/8 in.), small closed tears at creases, with official stamps of Berlin University. A student's official transcript, accomplished in clerical hand and signed by Einstein and four other professors.
EINSTEIN AT BERLIN UNIVERSITY IN 1920, signs the transcript of Isaak Firk, a medical student. The document notes Firk's attendance and payment (Bezahlt) at a series of lectures in the subjects of physiology, experimental physics, inorganic chemistry, anatomy, histology and theoretical physics with Prof. Einstein. Einstein started teaching in Berlin in 1914, when his mentor Max Planck arranged for his appointment to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. This came with membership in the Berlin Academy of Sciences and a professorial rank permitting (but not requiring) him to give lectures at Berlin University. These were years of expanding recognition and admiration for his work on relativity theory. The German capital seemed just the place for him to be at this moment in his career--and in the history of physics. "Berlin," Einstein said, "is the place to which I am most closely tied by human and scientific connections" (quoted in Pais, Einstein, 316). The Nobel Prize came the following year, 1921. But there were also ominous episodes that presaged the wholesale German collapse of 1933 and Einstein's emigration to America. Right-wing, nationalistic students disrupted one of his lectures on 12 February 1920, angry that a Jewish physicist, and one so publicly committed to Zionism, pacifism and disarmament, should receive such glowing praise as Germany's greatest scientist. Later that year, in August, nationalists denounced Einstein and relativity theory. When anti-Semitic violence erupted in Germany in 1922, following the murder of Jewish foreign minister Walter Rathenau, Einstein decided to spend much of the academic year 1922-23 traveling. Ten years later he would leave Germany forever.