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Item - BSL - Albert Einstein 1948


Wonderful Einstein Letter to a Jewish Internee in Famagusta, Cyprus expressing his "Thanks and admiration to the brave band of our brothers in Israel, that they have succeeded in attaining by their own hand that to which they have a Just Right."


Front and Back of Signed Typed Letter

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

A beautiful example of Einstein's abiding interest in and support of the Jewish plight and their attempts to establish a homeland in Palestine. While very supportive of the efforts to establish a Jewish State, Einstein uses his "fanaticism for the highest degree of simplicity" to divert a request to write a forward for Hessing's book as "your way of representing relationships of one thing to another differs so much from my way, that I cannot honestly enter in such a thing."

Historical Note

Einstein's pioneering work in relativity and atomic theory caused him to be named the outstanding figure of the 20th century by Time Magazine. “He was the embodiment of pure intellect, the bumbling professor with the German accent, a comic cliché in a thousand films. Instantly recognizable, like Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp, Albert Einstein's shaggy-haired visage was as familiar to ordinary people as to the matrons who fluttered about him in salons from Berlin to Hollywood. Yet he was unfathomably profound — the genius among geniuses who discovered, merely by thinking about it, that the universe was not as it seemed.” He was clearly the most important man of science since Newton. In addition to his scientific work, Einstein was a noted humanitarian and deeply interested in the plight of Jews around the world and their attempts to both come to America and establish a Jewish state in what was then Palestine. This letter was written to Siegfried Hessing, a resident of Internment Camp 67 Bg in Famagusta, Cyprus, where Jews were awaiting permission to enter the brand new nation of Israel. It is sent c/o the A.J.D.C., American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which was overseeing the care and re-settlement of 250,000 displaced Jews following World War II. Since 1946, Britain had been intercepting and blockading the mass exodus of Jews to Palestine, often sending them to internment camps on Cyprus. Finally on May 14, 1948 the British Mandate in Palestine expired and the State of Israel was born. Siegfried Hessing was a Polish Writer and student of philosophy.

One page Typed letter – Signed and Dated: November 24, 1948
Text as Follows
[translated from German]:

November 24. 1948
Mr. Siegfried Hessing
Camp 67 Bg c.o. A.J.D.C.
Famagusta, Cyprus

Dear Mr. Hessing,

I am confirming the receipt of your friendly letter of November 8 and empathize with you for all the difficulties you have had to suffer through. I am also happy for you, that this path of sorrow will soon come to an end through the presence of more normal circumstances. We all owe thanks and admiration to the brave band of our brothers in Israel, that they have succeeded in attaining by their own hand that to which they have a just right. I am glad to send you the photograph you desire which will be sent for the sake of security together with a copy of this letter to the address in Tel-Aviv. I’ve read the introduction to your book with great interest and would happy if I could support you by means of a forward in your publication. I do not feel, however, capable or justified to write such a forward. The reason is that your way of representing relationships of one thing to another differs so much from my way that I can not honestly enter into such a thing, as a person who has always striven with a kind of fanaticism for the highest degree of simplicity in my observation and expression. I hope that you understand this, and that you will soon be successful in publishing your work. With greetings and best wishes, [signed] A. Einstein

Interestingly, Hessing went on to immigrate to the US and write on the life and times of Benedictus de Spinoza. He was the editor of Speculum Spinozanum 1677-1977, which included contributions by both Einstein and Hessing. One can only wonder if Hessing again approached Einstein for a contribution, this time to a philosophical work, for it was Einstein who said, “I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and actions of human beings.” The letter was obviously kept by Hessing all his life as a particular treasure, as it was folded in such a way that it might be carried in a wallet. This has resulted in some wear, but the letter is perfectly legible, and the signature is very dark and strong. A remarkable and important letter for two reasons. Einstein expresses his gratitude to and admiration for those Jews who created the State of Israel, showing his strong support, and his belief that they had succeeded, a fact not universally understood at the time. He also states the underlying motivation behind his life of scientific inquiry; his fanatical desire to find simplicity in all things. From the tone of the letter and the fact that things were also being sent to an address in Tel Aviv, it seems probable that Hessing was soon to be allowed into Israel. Though not certain, from the date and his location in Cyprus, it seems likely that Hessing was a holocaust survivor. A touching letter from the Most Influential Man of the Twentieth Century and his desire to find simplicity in observation and expression.

Document Specifications: Typed Letter on wove cotton paper, watermarked “Whiting Mutual Bond 20% Cotton", dated November 24, 1948, signed "A. Einstein", his more formal signature, on his personal embossed stationary. One page typed letter printed on both sides measures 81/2w x 11h inches (215 x 280 mm). Letter has three vertical and three horizontal file folds one just touching end of signature. The document generally is light and worn with weak folds and several small wear points. Corners have slight rubbing and there is general wrinkling. This document was apparently lovingly carried for years in a passport or wallet.  Einstein's signature remains dark and strong.

 Offered by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd.

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