A Few Words of German

I was just finishing an autobiography of Albert Einstein, when I came across this, which moved me more than I expected. I still can’t fully articulate why it moved me, but I wanted to share it anyways.

Right to the end of his life, Einstein continued to speak out against the nuclear arms race and in defense of the civil liberties attacked in the early 1950s by the McCarthy witch hunts. But that end was not far off. He became ill again in April 1955, not long after his seventy-sixth birthday and a month after the fiftieth anniversary of the completion of his annus mirabilis, the paper for which he received the Nobel Prize. Einstein was taken to hospital; but he refused any treatment to prolong his life, describing such intervention as “tasteless.” A little after 1 A.M. on April 18, 1955, with only a nurse in attendance, he muttered a few words of German and died. The nurse knew no German.

From Annus Mirabilis: 1905, Albert Einstein, and the Theory of Relativity (Gribbin and Gribben, p. 129)


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