Lewis Lapham: 1939 Princeton Poll Ranked Hitler Over Einstein

Lewis Lapham: 1939 Princeton Poll Ranked Hitler Over Einstein

As Hitler rose to power, he proclaimed himself the genius Germany needed. He was the man to lead the Aryan race -- “from whose shining brow the divine spark of genius has at all times flashed forth” -- to its rightful place in the world.

(To listen to the podcast, click here.)

One of the great visionaries, Einstein overturned the rules of Newtonian physics, receiving the 1921 Nobel Prize. He was a professor in Berlin when Hitler ascended in 1933.

Calling Einstein a “Jewish criminal,” the Nazis confiscated his property, burned his books and made him an assassination target. Hitler claimed that Jewish scientists had stolen everything from the Germans: “We do not need them.”

That same year, Einstein joined Princeton’s newly-founded Institute of Advanced Study.

In 1939, Princeton University asked its incoming students to list the world’s greatest living people. Einstein came in second.

Hitler came in first.


Leave a Reply