JERUSALEM – More than a decade before the Nazis conquered power in Germany, Albert Einstein was on the run and already feared for the future of his country, according to a newly disclosed manuscript letter.
His old friend and Jewish companion, German Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau, had just been murdered by right-wing extremists and the police had warned the well-known physicist that his life could be in danger.
So Einstein escaped from Berlin and hid in the north of Germany. It was during this pause that he wrote a handwritten letter to his beloved younger sister, Maja, warning of the dangers of growing nationalism and anti-Semitism years before the Nazis eventually came to power, forcing Einstein to permanently leave his native Germany.
"Out here, nobody knows where I am, and I think he misses you," he wrote in August 1922. "Here dark economies and political times are being prepared, so I'm happy to be able to get away from it all."
The previously unknown letter, presented by an anonymous collector, is ready to be auctioned next week in Jerusalem with an opening price of $ 12,000.
As the most influential scientist of the 20th century, Einstein's life and writings have been carefully studied. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, of which Einstein was a founder, hosts the world's largest collection of Einstein material. Together with the California Institute of Technology he manages the Einstein Papers project. The individual auctions of his personal letters have brought considerable sums in recent years.
The letter of 1922 shows that he was worried about the future of Germany a whole year before the Nazis even tried their first coup – the failed Putsch of Munich to take power in Bavaria.
"This letter reveals to us the thoughts that were going through Einstein's mind and heart at a very early stage of Nazi terror," said Meron Eren, co-owner of the Kedem auction house in Jerusalem, which got the letter and offered The Associated Press a look before the public sale. "The relationship between Albert and Maja has been very special and close, which adds another dimension to Einstein and greater authenticity to his writings".
The letter, which bears no return address, is presumably written while in the port city of Kiel before embarking on a long language tour through Asia.
"I'm doing pretty well, despite all the anti-Semitic among German colleagues, I'm very lonely here, without noise and unpleasant feelings, and I'm earning my money mainly regardless of the state, so I'm really a free man," he wrote. "See, I'm about to become a kind of itinerant preacher, which is, first and foremost, enjoyable and secondly necessary."
Responding to his sister's concerns, Einstein writes: "Do not worry about me, I do not worry too, even if it's not kosher enough, people are very upset … In Italy, it seems to be at least as bad."
Later in 1922, Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Ze & ev Rosenkrantz, the assistant director of the Einstein Papers Project at Caltech, said the letter was not the first time that Einstein warned against German anti-Semitism, but captured his status The soul in this important intersection after the killing of Rathenau and the "internal exile" imposed itself shortly thereafter.
"Einstein's initial reaction was one of panic and the desire to leave Germany forever.Without a week, he had changed his mind," he said. "The letter reveals a rather typical mentality of Einstein in which he claims to be insensitive to external pressures, one reason could be to calm his sister's concerns, another is that he did not like to admit to being stressed by external factors".
When the Nazis came to power and began enacting legislation against the Jews, they also aimed to eliminate Jewish scientists. The Nazis rejected Einstein's revolutionary work, including his Law of Relativity, as "Jewish Physics".
Einstein renounced German citizenship in 1933 after Hitler became chancellor. The physicist settled in the United States, where he remained until his death in 1955.
Einstein declined to serve as the first president of the new state of Israel, but left his literary heritage and personal documents at the Hebrew University.
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