History of Science & Knowledge

The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Volume 17 (Documentary Edition): The Berlin Years: Writings and Correspondence, June 1929–November 1930

    Edited by
  • Diana K. Buchwald

A definitive scholarly edition of the correspondence and papers of Albert Einstein


Published (US):
Sep 3, 2024
Published (UK):
Oct 29, 2024
7.5 x 10 in.
28 b/w illus.
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This volume finds Einstein recovered and traveling again after a prolonged illness, to Paris, London, and Zurich to receive three honorary doctorates; to the Sixth Solvay Congress in Brussels and to Leyden; and to attend the Constituent Meeting of the Jewish Agency Council in Zurich and the twelfth session of the ICIC in Geneva. By the end of the volume, Einstein embarks on a transatlantic voyage for the first time in five years to spend an academic term at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Einstein’s work focuses on the teleparallel approach to unified field theory, on which he engages in intensive correspondence with Élie Cartan and begins his collaboration with Walther Mayer. He also presents popular accounts of his work, surveying the historical progression from classical to twentieth-century physics leading up to the latest developments in unified field theory. He also engages in lively exchanges on both technical and foundational issues in quantum mechanics with W. Pauli, M. Born, M. Schlick, and others.

His personal correspondence reflects eventful changes: the Einsteins realize their dream of owning a summer house outside Berlin, Einstein becomes a grandfather, his younger son Eduard commences his university studies and has his first serious mental health crisis, and his younger stepdaughter Margot gets married.

Einstein’s ties to the Zionist movement are seriously tested in the wake of the violence that erupts in British Mandate Palestine in 1929, to which he reacts with forceful calls for a genuine symbiosis between Jews and Arabs, proposing the establishment of joint administrative, economic, and social organizations. He warns that without finding “the path to honest cooperation and honest negotiations with the Arabs,” “we [Jews] have learned nothing from our two-thousand-year ordeal and deserve the fate that will befall us.”

In Germany, too, Einstein champions democracy in the face of rising support for the Nazi Party, is active on behalf of Jewish refugees, opposes the death penalty, and supports abortion rights and the decriminalization of homosexuality.

Einstein promotes pacifism more vigorously. His efforts to promote peace follow three distinct transnational avenues: disarmament, conscientious objection, and apolitical pacifism, aimed “to find practical mechanisms to restrict the nation state.”