Einstein’s Travel Diaries Reveal a Shocking Racist Attitude Towards Foreigners


Albert Einstein sitting in front of a blackboard

Einstein’s travel diaries revealed his racist attitude towards people in Eastern Asia

Albert Einstein was one of the biggest scientists on Earth, but physics wasn’t the only thing he was popular for. He was also a civil rights supporter who blamed racism and hated the discrimination of African American people. This is why his travel diaries appeared as a really interesting read. Last week, Princeton University Press published them, revealing how racist Einstein was towards foreigners.

Princeton University published Einstein’s travel diaries

Between October 1922 and March 1923, Einstein traveled through Asia and Europe, visiting countries like China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Palestine, or Spain. During his travel, he kept a diary where he put down his thoughts on the inhabitants of these countries. Given his civil rights support, you might think he thought well of these people.

However, these documents hid an unexpected situation. Last week, Princeton University Press published the travel diaries, allowing anyone to plunge into Einstein’s thoughts. Far from being politically correct, the scientist presented stereotypical conceptions on foreigners, raising questions on his attitude towards racism.

For instance, he describes Chinese people as automatons, who act like a herd and appear lethargic. He called everyone in the country, including children, spiritless and filthy. In a different passage, he described Levantines from Egypt as dark and said they reminded him of hell. Such examples occur often in the travel diaries, showing Einstein was really racist.

Everyone was shocked to see how racist Einstein actually was

These findings are striking, especially because they clash with Einstein’s public image. Everyone thought of him as one of the biggest icons of humanitarianism. Therefore, the offensive and hostile attitude towards people of different races came as a shock. Some of the entries are really inappropriate, so Einstein definitely didn’t intend to publish these travel diaries.

While most people were disappointed, there were others who somehow expected this behavior. Great scientific achievements don’t automatically mean social progress. In fact, at the time, many great figures in the world of science exhibited a racist behavior. Therefore, this phenomenon was common at the time among other scientists as well.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons


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