Safety in America

old postcard of a ship

'Westernland' © Ian Boyle collection

Einstein travelled to New York onboard the 'Westernland', leaving Southampton on 7 October 1933. He had planned to return to Oxford to take up a teaching post, but never did so. Einstein remained in America through fear of the political situation in Europe.

On arrival Einstein took up the position of professor at the Institute for Advance Study at Princeton, New Jersey. Just before the Second World War in 1939 Einstein wrote a letter to the US President Franklin D Roosevelt advising him that Nazi Germany were attempting to build an atomic bomb. He suggested America should do something to respond to this threat.

Einstein gained American citizenship in 1940 and enjoyed the freedom to express his views. He feared the use of the new atomic power, and was deeply upset by the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. He became chairman of the Emergency Committee for Atomic Scientists in 1946. Their aim was to raise awareness of the destructive potential of new scientific discoveries, including atomic power.

Until his death in 1955 he continued to work among the top scientists in the world and was vocal in his opinions on world politics.