Did Albert Einstein say this about World Wars?

Albert Einstein

I know not with what weapons WW3 will be fought, but WW4 will be fought with sticks and stones.

or did he say this?

World War three

I do not know what weapons the third world war will be fought with, but I know that the fourth one will be fought with sticks and stones.

Or, did he say both of the above?

  • 24
    A third possibility ... Einstein said something in German, and those are two translations of it into English.
    – GEdgar
    Nov 6, 2016 at 20:58
  • 2
    Please add the sources of the images.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 6, 2016 at 22:37
  • 2
    @Oddthinking A Google image search shows that both images are all over the internet
    – user22865
    Nov 22, 2016 at 8:33

1 Answer 1


Yes, he did. He was asked with which weapons the third world war would be fought. He answered - in German - with the following remark:

Ich bin [mir] nicht sicher, mit welchen Waffen der dritte Weltkrieg ausgetragen wird, aber im vierten Weltkrieg werden sie mit Stöcken und Steinen kämpfen

(from Calaprice, Alice (2005). The new quotable Einstein. Princeton University Press. p. 173. ISBN 0-691-12075-7)

Which translated means something like

I am not sure with which weapons the third world war will be fought, but in the fourth world war they will fight with sticks and stones.

So depending on how much artistic freedom you want to give the translators, yes, he did say that.

Partial image of page 173 of Calaprice's book from Amazon: enter image description here

  • 12
    Does the source state what the original place was where he said it? Clearly he didn't say it in 2005.
    – gerrit
    Nov 7, 2016 at 0:26
  • 1
    @gerrit - I added a screenshot of the page from Amazon. It is cited to have come from "an interview with Alfred Werner, Liberal Judaism 16 (April-May 2949), 12. Einstein Archive 20-1104"
    – warren
    Nov 11, 2016 at 19:11
  • 5
    Furthemore, it should be mentioned that Einstein was basically quoting a fairly common trope by 1949. The phrase (with variants -sticks and stones - or spears ) began to be popular around 1946. quoteinvestigator.com/2010/06/16/future-weapons
    – leonbloy
    Apr 14, 2017 at 17:38

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