Albert Einstein (1879-1955).
Autograph letter signed (‘A. Einstein’) to [Wilhelm Wien], [Berlin], 17 October 1916.
In German, half page, 222 x 141mm. Provenance: by descent from the recipient.
Einstein against his critics: a disdainful response to an insinuation of plagiarism. Writing to Wien as editor of the Annalen der Physik, Einstein encloses (no longer present) ‘an answer to a critical paper of Kottler’s in the Annalen’, which he asks Wien to publish. An attack by Ernst Gehrcke, however, does not merit a response: ‘On the other hand, I will not respond to the tasteless and superficial attacks of Gehrke [sic], as any informed reader can do so himself’.
Friedrich Kottler (1886-1965) had written a critical paper on the equivalence principle: Einstein’s response was published in Annalen der Physik 50 ('On Friedlich Kottler's paper: "On Einstein's equivalence hypothesis and gravitation"'). The article by Ernst Gehrcke which so aggravated Einstein had also criticised the equivalence principle, in the context of a broader attack on general relativity: what particularly stung was probably Gehrcke’s insinuation that he had, without acknowledgement, derived his formula for the perihelion shift of Mercury from a study by Paul Gerber in 1898. Robert Schulmann, A.J. Kox, Michel Janssen and József Illy (eds). The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, vol. 8, no. 267.