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2006-07-09 13:22

Germany reclaims Einstein as their hero

  Suffering from an acute lack of heroes after losing two world wars, Germany has reclaimed Albert Einstein as one of its greatest national figures even though the Jewish physicist fled the Nazis hating his native country.

  A century after the German-born scientist formulated his famous theory of relativity in Switzerland, and 50 years after his death on April 18, 1955, Einstein is being reclaimed by the country he rejected.

  Celebrations of the so-called “Einstein Year” of 2005 are taking place around the world, but nowhere are the tributes to the man with the droopy eyes and bushy grey hair so laden with historical baggage as in Germany.

  The German government has gone all out to latch onto Einstein, who became one of the world's first pop icons after his theories about space, time and relativity revolutionised science in the early 20th century.

  “It is a bit strange,” said Juergen Neffe, author of a German biography on Einstein that has been near the top of best-seller lists here since it was published in January.

  “Einstein hated the Nazis and extended his hatred to all Germans for letting it happen. It's certainly true that he hated Germany, but he would nevertheless be pleased about Germany's development in the last 30 years.”

  Germany's rediscovery of Einstein began in 2003 when he was picked by millions of television viewers in a survey as one of the “best Germans” of all time.

  Born in the Bavarian city of Ulm in 1879, Einstein moved to Switzerland at 17 to evade military service. After graduating from the Polytechnic School in Zurich he wrote scientific papers in his spare time while working as a Swiss patent officer.

  In 1905, Einstein's “miracle year”, he formulated his theory of relativity, an explanation of the relationship between time and space that challenged a view of the universe that had stood since the days of Sir Isaac Newton 200 years before.

  Einstein's fame soared in 1919 after his theory was proven. He won a Nobel Prize in 1921, after which Germany and Switzerland both claimed him as theirs.

  But Einstein didn't stop. His special theory also provided the basis for his most famous discovery, E=mc2, an equation that opened the door to the atomic age. The formula is known around the world even if few understand it.

  Einstein returned to Germany in 1914 and lived in Berlin for 19 years before fleeing Hitler's Nazis in 1933. He took a post at Princeton University, and spent the rest of his life there.

  His house in Berlin was ransacked by the Nazis. Einstein gave up his German citizenship in 1932 and became a naturalised American citizen in 1940.















  droopy : 下垂的, 无精打采的

  go all out : 全力以赴

  latch onto: 明白,了解

  naturalised: 加入…国籍的

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