Nazi persecution begins

crowd of people round a bonfire, some giving Nazi salutes

Nazi soldiers oversee mass burnings of books in Berlin's Opera Plaza. ©

Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Hitler's National Socialist (Nazi) party began its brutal persecution of those they felt did not represent the Aryan white race of Germany.

The Nazis suspended political and civil rights with the 'Reichstag Fire Decree' in February 1933. Hitler announced a 'Boycott of Jews' day in April 1933. He ordered action against the 'un-German spirit' and the burning of books, which included Einstein's. The repression continued with a ban on Jewish people being employed in the public sector, resulting in Einstein resigning from his position. Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels proclaimed;

"Jewish intellectualism is dead".

Many other leading scientists fled Germany during this period. This included 14 Nobel Laureates and nearly half of the country's theoretical physics professors.

Einstein's reaction

A winter teaching post saw Einstein in Pasadena, USA in 1932. He expected to return to Germany and his home in Caputh, near Berlin. The actions of the Nazis motivated Einstein to renounce his German citizenship in Antwerp, Belgium. At this time Einstein discovered that he was part of a government list of assassination targets. He would never return to Germany.