Einstein's diaries reveal racist remarks he made despite decrying oppression of blacks
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Newly published entries of Albert Einstein’s personal diaries revealed the famed scientist’s racist attitudes toward foreigners he encountered during his travels.

In the private entries the Princeton University Press published last week in “The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein,” the renowned physicist labeled the Chinese as an “industrious, filthy, obtuse people.”


Einstein, who had famously decried the oppression of black people in the United States, once called racism a “disease of white people.”

“There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it,” the late scientist said while delivering remarks at a commencement ceremony at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1946.

But the publication said the entries from diaries Einstein kept in the 1920s reveal “stereotyping of members of various nations and raise questions about his attitudes on race.” 

The Nobel Prize-winning scientist referred to Chinese people as “a peculiar herd-like nation … often more like automatons than people” in one passage, further adding that “even the children are spiritless and look lethargic.”

He also wrote the average Japanese is “unproblematic, impersonal, he cheerfully fulfills the social function which befalls him without pretension, but proud of his community and nation. Forsaking his traditional ways in favor of European ones does not undermine his national pride.”

Ze’ev Rosenkranz, the assistant director of the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology, told The Washington Post the scientist never intended for his racist remarks to be made public. 

“In published statements, he’s usually in favor of civil and human rights and was socially progressive,” Rosenkranz told the publication. “I’m not saying that he didn’t believe in those things.”

“It would be easy to say, yes, he became more enlightened,” Rosenkranz continued, but he said he remains unsure if the scientist’s racist views ever actually changed.

“One should emphasize the different elements and contradictory elements in the statements that he made and in his personality,” Rosenkranz said. “On one hand, he was very generous and very favorable. … But there’s also these statements that one should not ignore.”