Albert Einstein? Pablo Casals? Josep Maria Corredor? Paul S. Reichler? Robert I. Fitzhenry? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: A family of sayings about the unwise toleration of evil has been attributed to the famous scientist Albert Einstein. Here are five examples:
(1) The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.
(2) The world is too dangerous to live in, not because of people’s evil deeds but because of those who sit and let it happen.
(3) The world is a dangerous place not because there are so many evil people in it, but because there are so many good ones willing to sit back and let evil happen.
(4) The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm. It’s dangerous because of those who watch and do nothing.
(5) The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.
I am skeptical of these ascriptions because there are so may variants, and I have never seen a solid citation for any of these statements. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: In 1955 Josep Maria Corredor published a book in French about the prominent Spanish cellist Pablo Casals titled “Conversations avec Pablo Casals: souvenirs et opinions d’un musicien”. The book employed an interview format to present commentary from Casals on a variety of topics. In addition, Corredor gathered and printed opinions about Casals from several well-known individuals including Albert Einstein.
Editions of this popular book were issued in other languages. In 1956 an English translation by André Mangeot was published as “Conversations with Casals”. The section containing opinions about Casals began with the following assertion:
We would like to take this opportunity of expressing our gratitude for the opinions reproduced below, which were sent direct by the people concerned.
Thus, the remark from Albert Einstein was based on a note sent from Einstein to the creator of the book. The original German text of the note appears further below. Here is the English rendition. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:
Albert Einstein: It is certainly unnecessary to await my voice in acclaiming Pablo Casals as a very great artist, since all who are qualified to speak are unanimous on this subject. What I particularly admire in him is the firm stand he has taken, not only against the oppressors of his countrymen, but also against those opportunists who are always ready to compromise with the Devil. He perceives very clearly that the world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.
QI conjectures that the variant quotations listed at the beginning of this article were derived from Einstein’s statement in the book about Casals. Yet, it remains possible that Einstein made a separate statement in this family which QI has not yet discovered.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
Continue reading The World Is in Greater Peril from Those Who Tolerate or Encourage Evil Than from Those Who Actually Commit It