Albert Einstein Has A Word Or Two About Truth, Knowledge And Values – 1943 – Past Daily Reference Room
In the current climate of division, insanity and violence, there’s always been that quest for what Richard Nixon once referred to as listening to our “better angels” in an effort to inject some reasonable voice, or an attempt to make some sense out of our precarious and sometimes questionable human condition. In 1943, as reports were beginning to filter in of the situation in Germany and the German occupied countries towards Jewish populations, The United Jewish Appeal began an effort to create an awareness of what would later be described to the world as The Holocaust. In 1943 there were rumors and reports from refugees who had managed to escape. America was, for the most part, slow in reacting – and it was efforts of United Jewish Appeal and many other organizations at the time to help bring the situation to light.
On April 11, 1943, United Jewish Appeal organized a fundraiser and a broadcast appeal featuring several noteworthy personalities including this short address by Professor Albert Einstein, himself a Jew and a refugee who had managed to escape Hitler’s Germany:
Albert Einstein: Our age is proud of the progress it has made in man’s intellectual development. The search and striving for truth and knowledge is one of the highest of man’s qualities – though often the pride is most loudly voiced by those who strive the least. And certainly we should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality, It cannot lead, it can only serve; and it is not fastidious in its choice of a leader. This characteristic is reflected in the qualities of its priests , the intellectuals, The intellect has a sharp eye for methods and tools, but is blind to ends and values. So it is no wonder that this fatal blindness is handed on from old to you and today involves a whole generation.
Our Jewish forbears, the prophets and the old Chinese sages understood and proclaimed that the most important facet in giving shape to our human existence is the setting up and establishment of a goal; the goal being a community of free and happy human beings who by constant inward endeavor strive to liberate themselves from the inheritance of anti-social and destructive instincts. in this effort the intellect can be the most powerful aid. The fruits of intellectual effort, together with the striving itself, in cooperation with the creative activity of the artist. lend content and meaning to life.
But today the rude passions of man reign in our world, more unrestrained than ever before. our Jewish people, a small minority everywhere, with no means of defending themselves by force, are exposed to the cruelest suffering, even to complete annihilation, to a far greater degree than any other people in the world. The hatred raging against us is ground in the fact that we have upheld the ideal of harmonious partnership and given it expression in word and deed among the best of our people”.
The program begins with an address by Under Secretary of State Joseph C. Grew – here is that address from April 11, 1943