Rare Einstein letters reveal of his flight from the Nazis, on the auction

FILE – This undated file photo shows a legendary physicist Dr. Albert Einstein, the author of the theory of Relativity. (AP Photo/File) (AP Photo/File)

(AP Photo/File)

Two letters written by the world famous scientist Albert Einstein are set to be up for auction this week, which he and his flight from the Nazis and his work helping Jews escape Hitler’s regime.

(Credit: Nate D. Sanders Auctions)

Is sold in two separate lots, the letters provide additional insight into Einstein’s life, especially during the period after Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany.

Einstein wrote two letters to his sister, Maja Winteler-Einstein, according to auction house Nate D. Sanders Auctions. The first was written on March 28, 1933, on board the S. S. Belgenland on the day that he renounced his German nationality. The second is written on Dec. 14, 1938, an attempt to convince Maja to leave, Switzerland and the USA. if he tried to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis.


1933-letter, which is four pages in its entirety, was written by Einstein and his wife Elsa shortly after Hitler came to power in Germany. Einstein’s Berlin apartment was raided twice by the Nazis in February and March of that year. The Nazis also published a photo of Einstein with the title “not yet hanged” and placed a $5,000 bounty on his head.

Despite the friends trying to persuade him not to return from a stay in the U.S., Einstein and his wife were planning to go back to their summer cottage in Caputh, Germany, but they ultimately made the decision to not to return once they learned of the time in his apartment. Einstein himself in his German passport to the German consulate in Antwerp, Belgium.

Elsa began the letter with great care for Tetel, Albert, the son from his first marriage.

(Credit: Nate D. Sanders Auctions)

“Dear Maya” s [sic]! What were we thinking, believing that Tetel [Einstein’s son] was at that time with you! We have just discovered that this is not possible…these children are suffering terribly, because it’s terribly crass interview Albert gave in New York. Against my will! I was beg him, on my knees. In vain! / Maya [sic], life is hard and terrible. No matter what, do not write anything related to politics to the kids, nothing of Albert interview. Oh my God, all of our friends, or fled, or they were in prison.”

The letter continued, speaking of the political repression going on at the moment:

“The newspapers are censored. You can be anything. Maya [sic] – what a time we live in! For days now, I have been so miserable and sick that I am barely able to drag. We will be landing in Antwerp in 10 minutes. I wish that we were all nestled in a quiet corner. And I’m so scared during the landing!!!!! / Oh, God!”


Einstein took the letter from his wife and seemingly accepted their fate, according to the auction house Nate D. Sanders Auctions.

“Dear Maja, thinking that Tetel was with you was my mistake. It’s probably happened because you wrote about him in so much detail. Or maybe an unconscious desire [of mine] was behind it. He is actually pretty good, but he is depressed and in a characteristic way, loses the thread of a conversation. / All the best! We will now be looking for a hiding place for the summer.”

In the Dec. 1938 letter, Einstein wrote:

“…As a sideline, I am now working as a kind of itinerant relief committee, and buckets of letters, whole stacks full persecuted and desperate victims of the current situation. I sent some money to Marie Dr, and I am the help of the Ulm [city in Germany] family members with emigrate. It is easy for the little ones, but it is difficult for the old one…I will make use of a large part of my income for such permanent benefits and services. Gumpertz will have to leave (sic transit Gloria mundi [so passes the glory of the world]). Only if you’re dead, you will be safe. The most difficult thing will be finding a country that will accept the old people, even if one provides a modest living for them. That is how things have changed by now!”

Offer on each letter starts at $25,000 and both letters will be auctioned on June 28.

The letters mark a stark contrast in Einstein’s mentality of its earlier days. A recently published book of never-before-seen private travel diaries from the 1920’s proved that Einstein was racist in his early life, especially in the direction of the Chinese people.

Einstein died in 1955 at age 76.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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