Lot 216: ALS in German, signed "Einstein," one page both sides, 8.25 x 10.75, September 19, 1932. Letter to his longtime friend Wander Johannes de Haas, a German physicist and son-in-law of Hendrik Lorentz. In part (translated): "Ehrenfest makes me very sorry that he is so depressed through his feeling of insufficiency with regard to his post, which is objectively unjustified. I actually believe that there are few people who will be as well orientated as he will in our 'law of the jungle' department. Still, for everybody there is a limit where ability to learn comes to an end. I find that a special teaching post for atomic mechanics would be necessary in our universities; much more necessary than a teaching post for physical chemistry. Meanwhile, I also suppose that, for the present, the shortage of funds is making the creation of a new post, even for a limited duration, extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible. I even took the trouble to try what I could, so that these objective and psychological difficulties might be removed. It is impossible for me personally to jump into this gap. First, being an old boy, I already have enough on my back, and secondly I am much too little receptively skilled to be able to be serviceable to others at this time by the transmission of bits of knowledge.I would not be able to transplant the thick Partner. Here, it is yet more difficult than with you, and I also have no kind of influence with the new 'Governors.' It is even doubtful whether I do not altogether end my connections here. In any case, I have made myself quite independent, so that I may face anything that may come here with all composure. I regret the things that have happened to me from general human standpoints; what will there be as results, if the military economy starts again here! We feel our helplessness more than ever. Still, there are still good friends and fine people, so that we can feel at home on this earth." In fine condition, with central horizontal and vertical folds and a bit of trivial creasing. Accompanied by a full English translation.At this time, Einstein was serving as the Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics and as a professor at the University of Berlin. As anticipated in this letter—which was written less than two months after the German elections that saw the Nazi party grow to the largest in parliament—Einstein would leave Germany the following year. Shortly after his departure, Hitler banned Jews from holding official positions, including teaching at universities, and targeted Einstein's books at Nazi book burnings. Also of note is his comment on Paul Ehrenfest, longtime acquaintance and chair of theoretical physics at the University of Leiden; in 1925, Ehrenfest had hosted Einstein for the now-famous Bohr-Einstein debates. An exceptional personal and lengthy letter—boasting nearly 400 words in his own hand—in which the famed physicist considers his impending departure from his homeland.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 460
Wednesday, 16th September 2015
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