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LOT 148:

Ironic Letter Handwritten and Signed by Albert Einstein – in "Support" of the Austrian Policy toward the Jews – USA ...

Sold for: $22,000
Start price:
$ 10,000
Estimated price:
$20,000-30,000
Auction house commission: 23%
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Ironic Letter Handwritten and Signed by Albert Einstein – in "Support" of the Austrian Policy toward the Jews – USA, 1936
Letter handwritten and signed by Albert Einstein, to Jewish-American public figure and social activist Jacob Billikopf [Princeton?], 30.9.1936. German.
The letter before us was sent while Einstein was living in Princeton, USA, several years after the Nazi seizure of power and his decision not to return to Germany. His increasing concern for the fate of the European Jewry was manifested in countless public statements, speeches and interviews, in which he attacked the Nazi rule, warned against its intentions and tried to turn global public opinion against it; his concern is also manifested in the letter before us, in which Einstein addresses the worsening of the attitude of the Austrian authorities to the Jews.
In July 1936, due to increasing pressure by Germany, the Austrian chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg was forced to surrender to Hitler's demands and sign an official agreement with Nazi Germany (the July Treaty). In exchange for temporary recognition of Austria's independence, Schuschnigg promised to appoint ministers and cabinet members from the Nazi party and accept to the lines of the Austrian ruling party 17,000 additional Nazi members. Subsequent to the treaty, the Austrian government gradually adopted a policy of discrimination against and persecution of Jews.
Presumably, Einstein sent the letter before us as response to an article given to him by Billikopf, which expressed the idea that the Austrian government is adopting an anti-Semitic policy in favor of the Jews. Einstein responds with malicious irony: "I am sending you back the letter-segment (Briefausschnitt) after having read it carefully. Especially interesting is the part dealing with the attitude of the Austrian government toward the Jews, and it is even reasonable – a speck of "discrimination" so as to protect us from the wrath of the masses. That is certainly a good point (and look at the American universities)." [The comment in parenthesis refers, presumably, to the quota of Jewish students ("Numerus Clausus") that was imposed in several of the important universities in the USA during the 1930s, and was unrelated to the protection of Jews and their wellbeing].
At the end of the letter, Einstein humorously addresses some fake news that was published in the press, regarding the death of the diplomat and author Salvador de Madariaga: "It pleases me very much that the good Madariaga has returned to life. A short notice of the opposite was published four months ago in the 'Times'".
Albert Einstein (1879-1955), a Jewish-German physicist, one of the most influential physicists of the 20th century, the developer of the theory of relativity. Laureate of the Nobel Prize in Physics.
With the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, a trend started of isolating the Jews and removing them from German life. Among the first anti-Semitic laws were laws that removed the Jews from public offices (among them university positions). The Nazis persecuted Jewish physicists; among others, they disqualified the theory of relativity as "Jewish physics". When Hitler rose to power, Einstein was on a lecture tour outside Germany. In light of the situation in his country, he decided to renounce his citizenship and after a short period of travelling, settled in the USA, where he was offered a position at the Institute for Advance Study of Princeton, New-Jersey. Einstein remained in Princeton until his death on April 18, 1955.
Jacob Billikopf (1882-1950), a public figure, Jewish philanthropist and socialist, born in Vilnius. In 1895, he immigrated with his family to the USA, earned a degree in philanthropy studies at the Chicago University and later joined several important Jewish aid organizations. Toward the late 1930s, he decided to devote his efforts to saving the Jews of Europe and dedicated his entire time to enable their immigration to the USA.
[1] leaf, approx. 12.5X20.5 cm. Good condition. Vertical fold line. A stain on the bottom. Three pieces of tape on the margins of verso.