Max Herzberger on Albert Einstein
In my senior year I participated in a theoretical seminar in which we students had to give lectures on controversial themes, each guided by one of our professors. It was my good fortune to select a subject - statistical mechanics - which interested Einstein, so I went to his home several times to discuss the theme and spent many a pleasant hour accompanying him on his daily walks. How I enjoyed those talks we'd have, as we strolled across the countryside together. Also, he invited me to attend some of the chamber music concerts he sometimes held in his home, in which he himself participated. After I graduated, we stayed in contact with each other, and Einstein continued to follow my development with interest.
Not only did I learn a great deal from him as a scientist, but as a man. There was a warmth about him - an almost childlike charm - which enabled one to make contact with him immediately. He was always completely relaxed, never caring much about appearance. He especially enjoyed the beauties of nature. Formality and pretence of any form annoyed him. I remember once how he had to choose between attending a dinner party given in his honour by the Duke of Windsor or going to a special meal prepared for him by a gardener he had met by accident that day, and he chose the latter. He had no car. His house was more modest than most people of similar means would have had, with all the rooms filled with books and a study of Spartan simplicity. As a rule, he'd retire early. Around 9 p.m. his housekeeper or his step-daughter Margot would appear with a 'glass of milk for the Doctor' and ask you what you preferred to drink. That, of course, was really a discreet signal that it was getting near the Professor's bedtime. He taught that one should question even what is written in books and study a problem over and over again from different angles. He believed a man should look for achievement rather than just success, and not worry if some of his ideas might be attacked along the way.
JOC/EFR April 2016
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