Albert Einstein’s letter denouncing antisemitism in US academia on sale

“The hostile attitude of universities towards Jewish teaching staff and students has been increasing perilously, even though it manifests in a hypocritical manner,” the scientist wrote.

By
August 27, 2019 13:38
Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein. (photo credit: ACME / AFP)

A 1935 letter by Albert Einstein denouncing antisemitism in American academia will be auctioned on Thursday in Los Angeles.
 
“The hostile attitude of universities towards Jewish teaching staff and students has been increasing perilously, even though it manifests in a genteel or hypocritical manner,” the Nobel Prize recipient wrote.
 
“Unfortunately, the current Jewish leaders do not comprehend the seriousness of the situation, similar to the German Jews in the time before Hitler. They believe that they are able to put an end to the problem by being silent and disregarding it, and they thus miss the time for creating places of support,” he added, highlighting that establishing Jewish teaching institutions was “an absolute imperative.”
 
“This is not just true for the functions of the educational system, of course, but in economic and social terms as well…” the scientist further wrote. 
 
In the period between the First and the Second World War, many US universities, especially the most prestigious private ones, imposed quotas on the number of Jewish students they were willing to accept. 
 
The letter was written in German and addressed to Jewish physicist Paul Epstein.
 
According to a statement by the auction house, Nate D. Sanders Auctions, the bidding will begin at $25,000. 
 
Another two letters penned by Einstein will be auctioned on the same occasion. The first is a 1921 letter of recommendation for Epstein himself. 
 
In the second document, written in 1939, the scientist praised the Jewish tradition of mutual support.  
 
“The power of resistance which has enabled the Jewish people to survive for thousands of years has been based to a large extent on traditions of mutual helpfulness,” he wrote. “In these years of affliction, our readiness to help one another is being put to an especially severe test.”
 
The bidding for these letters will start at $6,000 and $10,000.
 
Earlier this month, a 1948 letter that Einstein addressed to Israel’s first president Chaim Weizmann expressing his mistrust of the attitude of world leaders toward the newly-founded Jewish state went on sale for $90,000.


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