a1 AG Geschichte der Mathematik und der Naturwissenschaften, Mainz University E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Einstein's initial fame came in late 1919 with a dramatic breakthrough in his general theory of relativity. Through a remarkable confluence of events and circumstances, the mass media soon projected an image of the photogenic physicist as a bold new revolutionary thinker. With his theory of relativity Einstein had overthrown outworn ideas about space and time dating back to Newton's day, no small feat. While downplaying his reputation as a revolutionary, Einstein proved he was well cast for the role of mild-mannered scientific genius. Yet fame demanded its price. Surrounded by social and economic unrest in Berlin, he was caught between two worlds, one struggling to be born, another refusing to die. Far from withdrawing, he threw himself into the political fray to become a symbol for international reconciliation during the early Weimar Republic. A decade later, his public image acquired another layer when he re-emerged as a Stoic sage and selfless humanitarian, a quasi-religious figure who saw himself as a modern-day Spinoza. Focusing on events of this period and the role of the German media in portraying them, this essay highlights the scientific and political undercurrents that drew Einstein into the public eye at a critical juncture in European history. Its broader aim is to show the import of these themes within the context of the vast literature on Einstein as well as the larger historiography of science.