New book published about Einstein’s stay in North Norfolk
7:00 a.m. on November 27, 2021
Albert Einstein’s escape from the Third Reich involved a visit to Cromer and a three-week stay at a nearby farm.
And now the little-known chapter in Einstein’s life, and his relationship to the upper-class adventurer who brought him there, is explored in a new book by Norwich-based historian Stuart McLaren. .
Called Saving Einstein: How Norfolk Hid a Genius – The Double Life of Oliver Locker-Lampson, the book tells the story of how the famous Jewish scientist was brought from Belgium to the county in 1933 – a decision that may have saved his life.
Mr McLaren, 67, said: ‘He was hated so much by the Nazis that he could have been murdered in Belgium.
âThere was another prominent Jew, Theodor Lessing, who was killed by Nazi sympathizers in Marienbad, a Czech town, when he thought he was safe there.
“Subsequently, Einstein received death threats in a message saying ‘you are next’.”
Einstein, born in Germany, moved to Belgium in 1933 after the Nazis came to power. He had gained worldwide fame for his theory of general relativity in the first decades of the 20th century and was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1921.
Oliver Locker-Lampson was an Eton and Cambridge-trained lawyer and Conservative MP who founded a patriotic fascist-style movement called the Blue Shirts.
During World War I he traveled to Russia and led a squadron of armored cars in an attempt to get the Tsar out of the way of the Bolsheviks.
Mr McLaren said: “The two men could not have been more different in their background and political outlook. One is Jewish, German, intellectual, great genius and pacifist with a leftist point of view.
âLocker-Lampson drifted further and further to the right and even caught the attention of the Nazis, but finally realized he had gone too far.
âHe was appalled at the persecution of the Jews and wrote to Einstein to offer his help.
“By a strange coincidence, they both got to know the King of Belgium, who acted as a sort of emissary between them.”
At the request of his wife Elsa, Einstein accepted Locker-Lampson’s offer of refuge.
After a boat trip to Dover, Locker-Lampson took Einstein, then 54, to northern Norfolk, where he spent most of September before emigrating to the United States.
He spent most of his time in Locker-Lampson’s secluded log cabin in Roughton Heath, where his guard consisted of a game warden, his son-in-law and a few armed private secretaries of the MP, who are known as the name of his âassistant angelsâ.
Mr. McLaren said: â[Locker-Lampson] was a very charismatic man who seemed to have a number of personal sidekicks. ”
Einstein made several trips to Newhaven Court, his host’s large summer home in Cromer, where he could receive and post letters, use the phone, have an evening meal, and take a bath.
Mr McLaren said: âHe would have admired the Cromer Church and he could also have taken part in other excursions such as the Cromer Lighthouse.
“He is also known to have visited Sidestrand Hall, the home of Sir Samuel Hoare on the north Norfolk coast.”
Newhaven Court became a hotel which was destroyed by fire in 1963.
At Roughton, Einstein had several prominent visitors, including sculptor Jacob Epstein.
Epstein sculpted a bust of the physicist’s head and then fondly remembered his “wild hair flowing in the wind”.
Mr McLaren said he had worked on the book on and off for more than 15 years as he had long been fascinated by Einstein’s stay in Norfolk.
He said: ‘When I was a young teenager I had to brag about physics or something and my aunt said’ your uncle met Einstein in the village of Roughton where he grew up ‘.
“I thought it was a little unlikely, so a few years ago I thought I would try to find out a little more about it.”
The book is available on Poppyland.co.uk, Jarrolds in Norwich, or at amazon.co.uk.