Let­ter shows Ein­stein’s fear for his coun­try

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD - AP

MORE than a decade be­fore the Nazis seized power in Ger­many, Al­bert Ein­stein, pic­tured, was on the run and al­ready fear­ful for his coun­try’s fu­ture, ac­cord­ing to a newly re­vealed hand­writ­ten let­ter.

His long-time friend and fel­low Jew, Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Walther Ra­thenau, had just been as­sas­si­nated by right-wing ex­trem­ists and po­lice had warned the noted physi­cist that his life could be in dan­ger too.

So Ein­stein fled Ber­lin and went into hid­ing in north­ern Ger­many. It was dur­ing this hia­tus that he penned a let­ter to his beloved younger sis­ter, Maja, warn­ing of the dan­gers of grow­ing na­tion­al­ism and anti-Semitism years be­fore the Nazis ul­ti­mately rose to power, forc­ing Ein­stein to flee his na­tive Ger­many for good.

“Out here, no­body knows where I am, and I’m be­lieved to be miss­ing,” he wrote in Au­gust 1922. “Here are brew­ing eco­nom­i­cally and po­lit­i­cally dark times, so I’m happy to be able to get away from ev­ery­thing.”

The pre­vi­ously un­known let­ter, brought for­ward by an anony­mous col­lec­tor, is set to go on auc­tion next week in Jerusalem with an open­ing ask­ing price of $12 000 (R171 200).

As the most in­flu­en­tial sci­en­tist of the 20th cen­tury, Ein­stein’s life and writ­ings have been thor­oughly re­searched. The He­brew Univer­sity in Jerusalem, of which Ein­stein was a founder, houses the world’s largest col­lec­tion of Ein­stein ma­te­rial.

To­gether with the Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy it runs the Ein­stein Pa­pers Project. In­di­vid­ual auc­tions of his per­sonal let­ters have brought in sub­stan­tial sums in re­cent years.

The 1922 let­ter shows he was con­cerned about Ger­many’s fu­ture a full year be­fore the Nazis at­tempted their first coup – the failed Munich Beer Hall Putsch to seize power in Bavaria.

“This let­ter re­veals to us the thoughts that were run­ning through Ein­stein’s mind and heart at a very pre­lim­i­nary stage of Nazi ter­ror,” said Meron Eren, co-owner of the Ke­dem Auc­tion House in Jerusalem, which ob­tained the let­ter. |

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