Albert Einstein is most famous for his scientific theories, but he is also celebrated as an outspoken civil rights activist who described racism as a ‘disease of white people.’
With this in mind, some newly released passages from his private travel diaries have come as quite a shock.
Einstein’s writings, published for the first time by Princeton University Press, contain several passages which are extremely xenophobic.
The diaries include a passage where he describes the Chinese as ‘industrious, filthy, obtuse people.’
He writes that the Chinese are ‘a peculiar herd-like nation… often more like automatons than people’.
‘Even the children are spiritless and look lethargic,’ the text reads.
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In another passage describing his arrival in Egypt, he describes meeting, ‘Levantines of every shade… as if spewed from hell.’
Princeton University Press said the diaries, ‘reveal Einstein’s stereotyping of members of various nations and raise questions about his attitudes on race’.
In contrast Einstein praises the people of Japan, calling them ‘unostentatious, decent, altogether very appealing’.
Ze’ev Rosenkranz, the book’s editor, told The Guardian: ‘I think a lot of comments strike us as pretty unpleasant – what he says about the Chinese in particular.
‘They’re kind of in contrast to the public image of the great humanitarian icon. I think it’s quite a shock to read those and contrast them with his more public statements.
‘They’re more off guard, he didn’t intend them for publication.’
Einstein was born 139 years ago and died in 1955. The Jewish scientist left Germany in 1933 after the rise of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party.