Albert Einstein's Answer to Atatürk

Ataturk and Albert Einstein
Ataturk and Albert Einstein

In the 1930s, Einstein, who was teaching at the University of Berlin, could not stand the Nazi pressure any longer and moved to Paris. Of course, other Jewish professors in Germany were also looking for a safe country where they could take refuge, as they were not safe.

For exactly this reason, a letter dated 17 September 1933 bearing the signature of 'Albert Einstein' was sent to the Turkish Prime Ministry to be delivered to Atatürk by the OSE (Jewish Rescue Society, which was founded in Paris during the Nazi rule).

The letter, which began as 'Your Excellency', was as follows:
“As the honorary president of the OSE World Association, I request your Excellency to apply to allow 40 professors and doctors from Germany to continue their scientific and medical studies in Turkey. The persons mentioned are not able to practice their profession due to the laws in force in Germany. These people, most of whom have extensive experience, knowledge and scientific merit, can prove to be extremely beneficial if they live in a new country. These 40 experienced experts and distinguished academics, to whom we applied for permission from Your Excellency to settle in your country and continue their work, were chosen from among the many applications made to our association. These scientists would like to work for one year without expecting anything in return at any of your institutions on the instructions of your government. In support of this petition, I dare to express my hope that if your government accepts the request, it will not only have done a high level of humanitarian action, but will also bring benefits to your country.”

Honored to be His Excellency's faithful servant,

prof. Albert Einstein

The Prime Minister of the time, İsmet İnönü, who read this letter, sent the letter to Reşit Galip, the Minister of National Education who was on duty at that time. But the result was negative.

Afterwards, a reply letter was sent to Albert Einstein as follows:

“I received your letter requesting the admission of 40 professors and doctors to Turkey who could not carry out their scientific and medical studies in Germany due to the policy of the government in power.

I saw these gentlemen agree to work for one year unpaid in our government organizations.

Although your offer is very attractive, I do not see the opportunity to give you a positive answer due to the laws and regulations of our country.

Distinguished professor, as you know, we have currently employed more than 40 professors and doctors.

These individuals, most of whom have similar qualifications and capacities, are also under the same political conditions. These professors and doctors have agreed to work here under the applicable laws and conditions. At present, we are trying to develop a very sensitive formation with members from various cultures, languages ​​and origins. Therefore, I regret to inform you that it is not possible for us to employ more personnel due to the conditions we are in.”

Distinguished professor,

I express the sadness of not being able to fulfill your desire, and I ask you to believe in my best feelings.

Again in 1933, when the University Reform was declared in Turkey, the education systems of many universities were modeled after successful models of Germany. This reform was realized under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and with the guidance of many German scientists and it was successful. Yes, you guessed right. This success belongs to them. Despite the rejection of the 40 scientists who were asked to work in our country by Einstein, 190 scientists came to our country that year! Do you have any guesses as to who and how this was done?

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk himself intervened in the situation and ensured the employment of scientists in our country. Inviting scientists to a banquet held in Dolmabahçe Palace in honor of the Shah of Iran and meeting with them one by one is one of the biggest indicators of the importance he attaches to this issue.

Ataturk and Scientists
Ataturk and Scientists

It is also very interesting that some scientists at this invitation healed the eye and dental ailments of the Shah of Iran.

This time, let's go to 1948. As a result of the acceleration of the success of Istanbul Technical University after the university reform, Prof. Dr. Münir Ülgür is sent to General Electric for an educational work and settled in Philadelphia, where he will live for 2,5 years. Our teacher knows that Einstein was working at Princeton University in those years, and although he had little hope, he sent a call to his secretary to meet him. He can't believe his ears when he hears that Einstein is waiting for him. He takes his wife and 3-year-old daughter to visit Einstein in his office.

According to his own account, Einstein met the Ulgur Family very sincerely and modestly, loved their daughter very much and even sat her on his knee and played the piano with her. During the interview, Einstein meant Atatürk;

“You know, you have the greatest leader in the world.” says. He even says that during the University Reform in 1933, Atatürk wanted him to come to Turkey as well. “My friends were always there, but I chose this place because there are so many opportunities here.” he adds.

When Nazi Germany got bigger and stronger, it often demanded that Turkey stop being a help base for Jews in Europe, and even extradite the Jews who had immigrated earlier in order to exterminate them. Despite the offers by Hitler himself to send better scientists to our country, Turkey ignored these calls and made negative returns.

İsmet İnönü's response to this call

We make do with the good we have.

Pretty flattering for him to answer, isn't it?

Today, there are many professors working in Turkish universities, trained by the students or students of the mentioned foreign scientists. Thanks to the foundations they laid, our teaching programs have become suitable for the modern age. With the translation of foreign sources into Turkish, the number and quality of available sources in our country have increased considerably. With the university reform, Turkey gained value as a society that produces science, and in those years, world-class works were carried out, especially on the aircraft industry. On this occasion, let us commemorate with respect, especially Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Albert Einstein and all scientists who contributed to our country.

Today, many professors working in Turkish universities are either students or students of these foreign scientists. For example,

  • in chemistry Fritz Arndt ve Friedrich Breusch,
  • in medicine Eric Frank , Felix Haurowitz, Rudolf Nissen, Werner Lipschitz, Siegfried Oberndorfer, Philipp Schwartz ve Hans Winterstein,
  • in zoology Curt Kosswig,
  • in the field of botany Leo Braune ve Alfred Heilbronn,
  • in astronomy Wolfgang Gleissberg Erwin Finlay Freundlich,
  • in philosophy Ernst von Aster ve Hans Reichenbach,
  • in sociology Gerhard Kessler,
  • in the field of pedagogy Wilhelm Peters,
  • in the field of economics Fritz Neumark, Alfred Isaac and Alexander Rustow,
  • in the field of law Ernst Hirsch ve Andreas Schwarz,
  • in philology Leo Spitzer Many Turkish scientists trained by professors such as



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