As one of the most prominent figures of the 20th Century - not to mention an ardent pacifist during the height of the Cold War - it’s not altogether surprising that Albert Einstein’s Federal Bureau of Investigation file stretches several thousand pages.
But while Einstein’s sharp critique of U.S. policy at home and abroad gave J. Edgar Hoover’s Bureau plenty to work with, some of the other concerns raised in the file were dubious at best.
Here are five of the strangest, pulled from the earliest section of Einstein’s file.
1. Einstein is not to be trusted (also UFOs are a prototype Soviet superweapon)
While the FBI received plenty of unsolicited mail warning about the immense threat posed by Einstein access to atomic secrets, one anonymous informant who went by the pen name “American” also took the opportunity to blow the lid wide open on how the commies were behind flying saucers.
2. Einstein’s son was a Soviet hostage
The Bureau investigated a tip that Einstein had been made into an unwilling thrall for the Soviet Union out of fear for his son’s life, only to abandon that particular lead when it turned out that Albert Einstein, Jr. resided not in Russia, as it was originally reported, but in South Carolina.
3. Einstein was the Communist Party’s mailman
The FBI’s Phoenix field office asked Hoover for permission to follow up on a tip that they hoped might lead to Einstein’s deportation: an informant’s 20-year old allegation that a friend’s wife or husband (they couldn’t remember which) had once been to Einstein’s house to do commie stuff. Hoover ultimately advised against the follow up.
4. Einstein was wrong about everything
That same informant provided the field office with notes cribbed from Elizabeth Dilling’s The Red Network “proving” that Einstein was a fraud and that relativity was a Soviet plot to make Americans feel stupid or something.
The notes include a quote from Einstein critic Nikola Tesla, and while we’re on the subject …
5. Einstein helped a bunch of ex-Nazis build a death beam
The Bureau looked into reporting that Einstein, a Nazi-loathing pacifist, had worked with former Nazis to build a beam weapon for some reason. Army Intelligence weighed in, informing the FBI that not only did that totally not happen, such a weapon would be almost completely ineffective.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again - the FBI really hates death beams.
Read the first section of the file embedded below; the rest on the request page.
Image via Picryl