The U.S. Government Thought Einstein Was a Communist Spy

The U.S. Government Thought Einstein Was a Communist Spy

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We all remember learning about Albert Einstein in grade school, but they never taught us that the U.S. government suspected him of being a Soviet spy.

With attention from the House Committee on Un-American Activities and Senator Joseph McCarthy, Einstein's radical political views landed him in the federal government's crosshairs. The Federal Bureau of Investigations compiled a file on him consisting of nearly 1500 pages.

The release "consists of several background-type investigations, an investigation of a close associate of his who was thought to be a foreign intelligence agent, and materials showing a general FBI concern about Einstein’s politics in relation to atomic energy issues."

Though Einstein held many controversial, left-wing views, he vehemently supported intellectual freedom and was an outspoken critic of McCarthyism. Einstein denied being a communist, saying, "I have never been a Communist. But if I were, I would not be ashamed of it."

Before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Einstein never appeared, but many thought he should have. Representative John Rankin remarked, "It's about time the American people got wise to Einstein. He ought to be prosecuted."

What views did Albert Einstein hold to make him a target of federal investigation?


Einstein's Controversial Political Views

Einstein denied being a communist but frequently wrote about and supported socialism, calling capitalism "economic anarchy."

Although he opposed free-market capitalism, he maintained much of his former Lockean views, stating, "As long as I have any choice in the matter, I will live only in a country where civil liberty, tolerance, and equality of all citizens before the law are the rule."

Einstein renounced his German citizenship in 1933 and became a U.S. citizen in 1940, but the U.S. government was suspicious of him even back then.

Fleeing Nazi Germany in 1933, Einstein knew the dangers of despotic totalitarianism all too well and became an ardent anti-fascist. That may not seem too subversive now, but before World War II, fascism was quite popular globally and in America.

Einstein firmly opposed nationalism and endorsed erasing political borders. In 1947, he wrote, "I saw how excessive nationalism can spread like a disease, bringing tragedy to millions." Advocating for atomic disarmament and world peace, Einstein supported the United Nations and believed in a justice-centric global government.

Justice and liberty were essential to Einstein.

Long before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Einstein was associated with well-known civil rights leaders. Experiencing first-hand antisemitism, Einstein was vigorously sympathetic to minorities, becoming a vocal opponent of racial injustice. In 1933, when Einstein settled at Princeton, many hardliners and government officials considered anti-racism in America subversive.

Because of Einstein's intellect, notoriety and influence on the scientific community and beyond, his controversial political beliefs put him at odds with the U.S. government. Though he was never charged, many believed he was a Soviet spy who had infiltrated the American landscape.

The evidence never held up. Einstein was not a communist spy.

While libertarians may find some of Einstein's political beliefs unappealing, we must acknowledge him as an asset to intellectualism. His dedication to world peace, anti-war, intellectual freedom and human rights has inspired decades of political and social thought.

A Nobel Prize winner, Einstein's contributions to science and humanity make him a man worthy of historical reverence. Happy Birthday, Albert Einstein!


If you enjoyed this article, you may also like 'Obedience is Not Patriotism.

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