Albert Einstein in the Cuban capital

Albert Einstein in the Cuban capital

Heritage & Traditions


Among the many personalities who have visited Cuba throughout  its history, the German physicist Albert Einstein, at the height of his fame, visited Havana, during a brief but significant stay in 1930.

In Cuba, interpretations and debates around Einsteinian principles, of extraordinary implication for Physics, and the award of the Nobel Prize in 1921, for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect, had, as in other parts of the world, wide repercussion , above all, in the academic world.

Engineer José Isaac del Corral Alemán, a true scientific authority in this country, was the first Cuban who, in 1923, made a public lecture on Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.

But the debate was definitely open on February 22, 1924 in a session of the Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Havana when this engineer submitted to the academic forum a work by the priest and renowned meteorologist Mariano Gutiérrez Lanza, where the religious, identified as non-relativistic, nonetheless found Einstein's theory fascinating in form and bold in claims.

On December 19, 1930, six years after that debate, the evidence of Einstein's theory began to be accepted in the scientific institution.

The intellectual community, gathered in extraordinary session, welcomed in the Auditorium the exceptional presence of the admired and recognized physicist as a genius.

The meeting with the Nobel Prize winner was attended by members of the Academy of Sciences itself and members of the Geographical Society of Cuba, as well as the press and other sectors of culture in the capital.

During his brief stay in Havana — approximately about 30 hours — Einstein also attended a reception offered by the Cuban Society of Engineers. At the end of the solemn activities organized in his honor, the illustrious and shrewd scientist left these words in the Golden Book of the Cuban Geography Society: The first truly universal society was the researchers' society. May the next generation be able to establish an economic and political society that safely avoids catastrophes.

His hosts took him to beautiful parks and luxurious clubs, on a tour of the friendly and lavish face of the city, but he asked to be shown the poor neighborhoods as well. He then entered the lots and quarters and was pleased with another itinerary that included the homeless neighborhoods of Llega and Pon and that of Pan con Timba, the Single Market and the modest shops of Calzada del Monte.

As soon as the Belgenland, ship where he was traveling with his wife and other colleagues, left the Havana port bound for Panama, Einstein showed his impressions with an extraordinary keenness of judgment on the page of his diary on December 20 ... "luxurious clubs mingle with atrocious poverty, which mainly affects colored people”.

The stop on the road that the German Jewish physicist made in Havana coincided with a stage of social confrontations that led to the so-called Revolution of 1933.

The Cuban progressive intelligentsia was able to meet and pay their sympathies not only to the dedicated scientist, but also to the man who meditated on the main and most pressing problems of his time.