Einstein’s Eyes: Chilling Story Behind the Famous Photograph

Last night I came across a chilling story behind a famous photograph of Albert Einstein.

The portrait was taken by Philippe Halsman, a photographer who had escaped Nazi Germany with Einstein’s help. Meeting together in 1947, Halsman held a camera while he chatted with Einstein. He asked Einstein if he believed there could ever be a lasting peace.

Einstein answered with weary resignation,

“No, as long as there will be man, there will be war.”

According to Walter Isaacson, from page 494 of the fine book, Einstein, that I described on Monday:

“At that moment Halsman clicked his shutter and captured Einstein’s sadly knowing eyes for what became a famous portrait.”

Here’s the Halsman photograph. You can almost see the thought lingering behind his eyes.

While I surfed that up, I also caught another wave — a copy of the first page of the letter that Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, alerting him about the potential of “extremely powerful bombs of a new type.” This was the letter that set the Manhattan Project into motion. As a side note, though this was a matter of utmost urgency, it required two months for the letter to be finally delivered into the President’s hands.

One comment

  1. Mary Holden says:

    Thank you for posting this. I heard a very interesting story this morning about A. Einstein’s eyes. Sincerely, Mary Holden, Phoenix

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