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[The following passage is from Einstein on the Road by Josef Eisinger, 2011. Before setting out for Pasadena in late 1931, Einstein and his wife spent two weeks visiting friends in Belgium and the Netherlands before reaching Antwerp, their embarkation port. At the railway station they were met by Herr Geissler, an agent of the Hamburg American Line, who as a boy had been a classmate of Einstein’s in Munich. It is clear from the story he told Einstein that Geissler, despite defying his father, eventually fell into some of his attitudes. This often seems to happen.]

Einstein must have been in an unusually effusive frame of mind when he made the first entry in his new diary, for he recorded almost verbatim a bizarre story, told to him by Geissler, who since his school days had turned into a ‘worthy, somewhat Prussianized Bavarian,’ a serious chess player, and a drinker. The story was this: As a young boy, Geissler despised his family’s vegetable soup but was strictly forbidden to leave any food on his plate. Once, when, after gulping down a few spoonfuls of vegetable soup at the midday family meal, he gave up in despair, his father, a very ‘energetic army officer,’ left the table to fetch his pistol. He placed the pistol on the table and told his son, “Eat the soup, or I will shoot you.” Young Geissler forced a few more spoonfuls of the hated brew down his throat before he capitulated, unbuttoned his little waistcoat, and very sincerely said to his father: “shoot!”

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