The man responsible for revolutionising how the world thinks about space and time has shown that he probably was not as much of a genius with the world’s cultures as he was with physics.
Einstein, who fled Germany in in the 1930s fearing he would be persecuted for his Jewish heritage, has shown that he was also intolerant of other cultures.
His private travel diary he kept during trips to China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan between 1922 and 1923, shows that he had a problem with Asians, particularly the Chinese.
Einstein, who was a civil rights activist and once described racism as “a disease of white people”, described the Chinese as “a peculiar herd-like nation… often more like automatons than people”.
He adds: “Even the children are spiritless and look lethargic” and that they are “industrious, filthy, obtuse people”.
The physicist also details his trips to Colombo, in Sri Lanka – then called Ceylon – writing of the people: “They live in great filth and considerable stench down on the ground, do little, and need little.”
When in Port Said, Egypt, Einstein describes people who came on board his ship to sell their goods as: “Levantines of every shade… as if spewed from hell”.
The excerpts from his diary were published by Princeton University Press, The Travel Diaries of Albert Einstein: The Far East, Palestine, and Spain, 1922-1923, and was edited by Ze’ev Rosenkranz, assistant director of the California Institute of Technology’s Einstein Papers Project.
Mr Rosenkranz told the Guardian: “I think 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.”
Mr Rosenkranz wrote in a preface for the diaries: “I began to ask myself: how could this humanist icon be the author of such passages?