Princeton University recently published a translated version of Albert Einstein’s personal diaries, which reveal some particularly troubling sentiments about other, non-white races. Titled The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein, the diaries were penned between October 1922 and March 1923, and features some passages that greatly contrast his idea that racism was a “disease of white people,” a quote he uttered later in his life.
Einstein observes how “Chinese don’t sit on benches while eating but squat like Europeans do when they relieve themselves out in the leafy woods. All this occurs quietly and demurely. Even the children are spiritless and look obtuse,” mocking an oriental behaviour practiced for centuries.
Elsewhere, Einstein denounces the “abundance of offspring” and the “fecundity” of the Chinese. “It would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races. For the likes of us the mere thought is unspeakably dreary,” he notes.
The world’s most iconic scientist believed the residents of Ceylon, which is now known as Sri Lanka, “live in great filth and considerable stench at ground level,” before noting how they “do little, and need little. The simple economic cycle of life.”
The book’s translator Ze’ev Rosenkranz spoke with The Guardian about the text, and believes that “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.”