Einstein's diaries contain shocking details of his racism
Newly translated into English, Albert Einstein's private travel diaries from the 1920s reveal that he was racist in his early life, especially towards Chinese people.
The journals, published as "The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein" by Princeton University Press, reveal that Einstein, perhaps the most famous scientist of all time and known for his theory of general relativity and the equation e=mc2, was extraordinarily biased towards certain populations. This is a stark contrast to his stance later in life when he said that racism was a "disease of white people."
The diaries were written between October 1922 and March 1923. In one entry Einstein wrote that the “Chinese don’t sit on benches while eating but squat like Europeans do when they relieve themselves out in the leafy woods. All this occurs quietly and demurely. Even the children are spiritless and look obtuse.”
Speaking about the “abundance of offspring” and the “fecundity” of the Chinese, he continued: “It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races. For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary.”
Einstein also derided the people of Ceylon, which is now known as Sri Lanka. In Ceylon, he wrote, the locals “live in great filth and considerable stench at ground level,” before adding they “do little, and need little. The simple economic cycle of life.”
Einstein also gave his thoughts on Japanese people, who he viewed in a more positive light, calling them "unostentatious, decent, altogether very appealing.” However, he also wrote the “intellectual needs of this nation seem to be weaker than their artistic ones – natural disposition?”
"Entries... contain passages that reveal Einstein's stereotyping of members of various nations and raise questions about his attitudes on race," a description of the book reads.
The journals were translated from the German and are described as "the first publication of Albert Einstein’s travel diary to the Far East and Middle East."