8 December 2015
EINSTEIN, Albert. Typed letter signed (“A. Einstein”), to Director of Kosmos Publishing, Caputh bei Potsdam, 13 October 1932. 1 page, 4to, personal stationery, expert repairs to folds on verso. In German.
A FORCEFUL STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF FREE SPEECH IN AN INCREASINGLY POLARIZED GERMANY
Einstein’s letter to the German publishing house Kosmos reads in full: “You asked me for my opinion about the importance of the freedom of the press. My opinion is this: A state which impairs written and oral free criticism and expression of opinion about political topics or indeed suppresses it, must necessarily degenerate. Toleration of such restrictions is proof of and engenders the political inferiority of its citizens.” The Stuttgart based publishing house traced its origins back to the early 19th century, but was a publisher of popular science books and a widely circulated magazine (also titled Kosmos). By the early 1930s, political extremism of the far left and right had eroded any sense of moderation or tolerance in German cultural and political life. Even the most powerful and well-established newspaper and publishing concerns began censoring themselves for fear of provoking or offending the extremists. Once Hitler’s Nazi Party rose to power just three months later, in January in 1933 free speech in Germany came to an end and Einstein sought refuge in America.
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