Einstein's travel diaries reveal racist stereotypes
Newly published private travel diaries have revealed Albert Einstein's racist and xenophobic views.
Written between October 1922 and March 1923, the diaries track his experiences in Asia and the Middle East.
In them, he makes sweeping and negative generalisations, for example calling the Chinese "industrious, filthy, obtuse people".
Einstein would later in life advocate for civil rights in the US, calling racism "a disease of white people".
This is the first time the diaries have been published as a standalone volume in English.
Published by Princeton University Press,The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein: The Far East, Palestine, and Spain, 1922-1923was edited by Ze'ev Rosenkranz, assistant director of the California Institute of Technology's Einstein Papers Project.
Einstein travelled from Spain to the Middle East and via Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon, on to China and Japan.
The physicist describes arriving in Port Said in Egypt and facing "Levantines of every shade... as if spewed from hell" who come aboard their ship to sell their goods.
He also describes his time in Colombo in Ceylon, writing of the people: "They live in great filth and considerable stench down on the ground, do little, and need little."
But the famous physicist reserves his most cutting comments for Chinese people.
According to a piece in the Guardian about the diaries,he describes Chinese children as "spiritless and obtuse", and calls it "a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races".
In other entries he calls China "a peculiar herd-like nation," and "more like automatons than people", before claiming there is "little difference" between Chinese men and women, and questioning how the men are "incapable of defending themselves" from female "fatal attraction".
Noted for both his scientific brilliance and his humanitarianism, Albert Einstein emigrated to the US in 1933 after the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.
The Jewish scientist described racism as "a disease of white people" in a 1946 speech at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
Diaries reflect changing views
Analysis by Chris Buckler, BBC News, Washington
Einstein's theory of relativity changed how people thought about space and time but these diaries demonstrate how his own personal views about race seem to have altered over the years.
The writings may have been intended as private thoughts but their publication will upset some in America, where campaigners still celebrate Albert Einstein as one of the voices that helped shine a light on segregation.
When he moved to the US in 1933 he was taken aback by the separate schools and cinemas for blacks and whites and Einstein subsequently joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
He is said to have told people that he saw similarities in the way Jews were being hounded in Germany and how African-Americans were being treated in his new homeland.
He chose Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, a historically black college, to give one of his most damning speeches just a year after the end of World War Two.
His diaries are full of gut reactions and private insights. In the context of the 21st Century they may tarnish the reputation of a man who is revered almost as much as a humanitarian as a scientist.
But the words were written before he saw what racism could lead to in America and Germany - a country he had effectively fled.
Chinese defend Einstein's portrait of their people as 'filthy' and 'obtuse'
Scientist’s travel diaries from 1920s revealed racist attitudes including describing people who were ‘spiritless’
Fri 15 Jun 201806.13BSTLast modified on Fri 15 Jun 201811.51BST
Chinese internet users have defended Albert Einstein’s recently published travel diaries in which the physicist calls the Chinese “industrious, filthy people.”
Portions ofthe diariesfrom his travels in Asia in the 1920s were posted online this week and their content surprised Einstein fans.
“Chinese don’t sit on benches while eating but squat like Europeans do when they relieve themselves out in the leafy woods,” he wrote.
“All this occurs quietly and demurely. Even the children are spiritless and look obtuse.”
The theoretical physicist, who once said racism was “a disease of white people”, added: “It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races. For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary.”
While some internet users called for a “boycott of Einstein” and said his observations proved “all humans, even Einstein, have a stupid, shallow side,” most said theChinaEinstein witnessed is nothing like it is today.
“Einstein went to China at the wrong time,” said one Weibo user, describing the early years of the Chinese republic, established in 1912, which came after centuries of imperial rule. “Hunger, war, and poverty all pressed on the Chinese. How could Chinese people at the time gain Einstein’s respect?”
Many were in strong support of the scientist: “This is called insulting China? That’s ridiculous. Did the Chinese in that era look dirty? When I see the photos from then, they look dirty, Einstein depicted the true state of that era.”
Others compared the scientists’s observations to that of Lu Xun, considered the father of modern Chinese literature, who was best known for his scathing satire of Chinese society in the early 20thcentury. “We praise Lu Xun because he pointed out our disadvantages. Why should we blame Einstein for this?”
Historical narratives promoted by the Chinese government often paint the days before China’s communist party took power in 1949 as chaotic.
The state-run Global Times published an editorial on Friday praising the level-headed response of Chinese internet users. The author, who goes by the pen name Gengzhige, wrote: “I’m curious what Einstein would write now if he saw the open attitudes most Chinese show today toward his private diary.”
The editorial elicited over 2,000 comments. One of the most liked responses said: “Dignity is earned by oneself, not given by others.”
But there were some dissenting voices amongst the comments: “This is just racism. We can see that Einstein is strong in physics but he doesn’t understand humans at all.”