Einstein’s Wife: Open Letter to PBS Postscript

A Postscript to my Open Letter to PBS.

In the comments solicited by PBS from Geraldine Hilton, writer/producer of the “Einstein’s Wife” documentary, she writes of the three academics who have dissociated themselves from the film, John Stachel, Robert Schulmann and Gerald Holton, that “not one has come forward and claimed they were misrepresented because they weren’t”: Defending Einstein’s Wife Film.

However, the historian of physics Gerald Holton responds in an email to me:

As to my ‘not coming forward’, as you report them to have said: I sure did, as many of my friends and colleagues will confirm. I told them how I felt to have been tricked into appearing in this awful film, because the film people said it was to be about Albert Einstein – not a word about his wife being made the main character, with entirely false claims. Thereby they also demeaned Mileva, about whose true, respectable role I and others have written.

That Geraldine Hilton deceived Stachel, Schulmann and Holton about the nature of her film is implicitly acknowledged by Hilton herself in a comment she made in an interview [pdf] she gave to an Australian newspaper in 2004 in which she reports how she dealt with what she describes as the “Einstein supporters”:

‘She’s just an Aussie director, what would she know’, is what they’d think, we’d act dumb, we’re just a couple of Aussie chicks and they’d think, ‘what would they know’.

One would be interested to know what PBS thinks about the ethical standards of a film-maker who sets out to make a documentary carrying a doctrinaire message, and deliberately withholds from interviewees with expertise on the subject the true nature of the project. Little wonder that it resulted in what Stachel describes as a “whole series of entangled falsehoods” (personal communication), and Holton as “a sorry fiction” that is a “blatant perversion of the role of Mileva Marić”.

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