We do not buy Oppenheimer’s explanation of the problems with Einstein’s collected papers, but we are not aware about any historical investigation of the reason(s) for non-existence of such a collection and decided to look at the first volume (1987) of The collected papers of Albert Einstein (work in progress, published by Princeton University Press http://www.einstein.caltech.edu/pub.html), for possible clues.
This volume starts from Publisher’s Foreword, that provides some explanations (we skip the lengthy discussion of financial and bureaucratic history of this project):
“The thought that Einstein’s papers should be published was an obvious one. [We cannot be more agree with this statement.] There was particular interest in the idea of publishing his scientific writtings [as Japanese and Russians did], as proposed after Einstein’s death by Princeton University Press and also by Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, then the Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where Einstein had been a professor since 1933. Dr. Nathan and Miss Dukas rejected these proposals, in part because they foresaw the importance of publishing all of Einstein’s papers, including especially his writings on peace and world political affairs.”
The last sentence is not clear. What was the reason for rejection of publication of Einstein’s scientific writtings, in addition to presented “in part” argument? Moreover, something is not right here. Why, as we know and touched this in the previous post, did Helen Dukas help a lot to put forward the Russian collection of Einstein’s scientific papers, but reject the proposal from Princeton and Oppenheimer? In addition, the Readex Collection (Readex Microprint Corporation, New York) was produced in 1960 – exactly publishing Einsten’s scientific writtings (but not translated into English). Who did this? Was it done without an approval or even informing Dr. Nathan and Miss Dukas?
Today we went to the archive of our library and after one hour of waiting we got a little book “A bibliographical cheklist and index to the collected writings of Albert Einstein” (Readex Microprint Edition), where in Preface we read:
“This collected edition of Albert Einstein’s published works owes its existence to a suggestion made by the Readex Microprint Corporation shortly after Einstein’s death [i.e., at the time when Oppenheimer’s proposal was rejected]. In view of the very large number of works which Einstein published over a period of almost fifty-five years, and also because of the inaccessibility of many of his original publications, the Estate of Albert Einstein welcomed the suggestion to prepare this collected edition and is very grateful to the Readex Microprint Corporation for its cooperation and competent assistance….
The material assembled here is in German, English, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Dutch, Italian, and Japanese. …
The cooperation of many publishing houses and periodicals throughout the world in giving permission for republication and in offering helpful advice is thankfully acknowledged.”
And now (!!), to the author of Preface:
The Estate of Albert Einstein
October 1, 1959”
On the next page there is short Publisher’s Note:
“In our work we have been generously assisted by Dr. Peter G. Bergmann, former associate of Dr. Einstein, who supervised the subject headings for the scientific entries in the Index, and by Miss Helen Dukas, secretary to Dr. Einstein for thirty years, who, among many favors, kindly rechecked for accuracy the titles of all the German scientific texts.
Dr. Otto Nathan, executor of the Estate of Albert Einstein, has been helpful, far beyond the call of duty, with important contributions to the solution of many intricate problems that have arisen in the course of assembling the Microprint Edition. This valuable assistance we acknowledge with extreme gratitude.”
These quotations speak for themselves.