In response to the editor of Kaizo, Albert Einstein wrote this short essay to describe his limited involvement in the development of the atomic bomb. Einstein stated that his participation consisted of “a single act” – signing the 1939 letter to President Roosevelt*. “I did not see any other way out, although I always was a convinced pacifist.” The essay appeared in a special edition of Kaizo published in 1952.
My participation in the production of the atom bomb consisted in a single act: I signed a letter to President Roosevelt. this letter stressed the necessity of large scale experimentation to ascertain the possibility of producing an atom bomb.
I was well aware of the dreadful danger for all mankind, if these experiments would succeed. But the probability that the Germans might work on that very problem with good chance of success prompted me to take that step. I did not see any other way out, although I always was a convinced pacifist. To kill in war time, it seems to me, is in no ways better than common murder.
As long however, as nations are ready to abolish war by common action and to solve their conflicts in a peaceful way on a legal basis. they feel compelled to prepare for war. They feel moreover compelled to prepare the most abominable means, in order not to be left behind in the general armaments race. Such procedure leads inevitable to war, which, in turn, under todays conditions, spells universal destruction.
Under such circumstances there is no hope in combating the production of specific weapons or means of destruction. Only radical abolition of war and of danger of war can help. Toward this goal one should strive; in fact nobody should allow himself to be forced into actions contrary to this goal. This is a harsh demand for anyone who is aware of his social inter-relatedness; but it can be followed.
Gandhi, the greatest political genius of our time has shown the way, and has demonstrated the sacrifices man is willing to bring if only he has found the right way. His work for the liberation of India is a living example that man’s will, sustained by an indomitable conviction is stronger than apparently invincible material power.
*Einstein’s Letter to President Roosevelt