Albert Einstein? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: My University has an Academic Integrity Office which has launched a poster campaign that includes an image of Albert Einstein together with the following statement which has been ascribed to the brilliant physicist:
Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted with large ones either.
Misquotations linked to this famous genius are very common, and I have not yet found convincing evidence that these really are the words of Einstein. Would you please examine this topic?
Quote Investigator: QI believes that this quotation and its ascription are genuine; however, the words were originally written in German by Einstein; hence, multiple translations into English were possible.
In 1957 the journal “New Outlook: Middle East Monthly” printed a statement with the following description:
Excerpt from Albert Einstein’s last statement, April, 1955, published here for the first time through the kindness of Helen Dukas, Professor Einstein’s secretary.
The journal presented the text in German with an accompanying English translation. The English passage included a close match for the statement under investigation. Boldface has been added: 1
Wenn es sich um Wahrheit und Gerechtigkeit handelt, gibt es nicht die Unterscheidung zwischen kleinen und grossen Problemen. Denn die allgemeinen Gesichtspunkte, die das Handeln der Menschen betreffen, sind unteilbar. Wer es in kleinen Dingen mit der Wahrheit nicht ernst nimmt, dem kann man auch in grossen Dingen nicht vertrauen…
When the issue is one of Truth and Justice, there can be no differentiating between small problems and great ones. For the general viewpoints on human behaviour are indivisible. People who fail to regard the truth seriously in small matters, cannot be trusted in matters that are great.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1957 July, New Outlook: Middle East Monthly, Volume 1, Number 1, Albert Einstein On Israeli-Arab Relations, Quote Page 5, Published by Tazpioth, Tel Aviv, Israel, (Verified on paper) ↩