Description

    Einstein reveals the fate of his original manuscript on the Theory of Relativity and acknowledges his satisfaction "with the progress of the war"

    Albert Einstein Typed Letter Signed "A. Einstein". One page, 8.5" x 11", n.p., April 14, 1944, on Einstein's personal blind-stamped Princeton stationery. Writing less than two months before D-Day (June 6, 1944) to David Rothman of Southold, Long Island, New York, Einstein reveals that his "first manuscript about relativity was not burned by the Nazis. I myself threw it into the waste-basket." The letter reads in full:

    "I was quite thrilled when I saw the beautiful boat your son has build [sic] for himself and I am wishing him happy times in it. Your Bay is really the most beutiful [sic] sailing ground I ever experienced and I regret that the health of my family compels me to go into the mountains for recreation.

    "My first manuscript about relativity was not burned by the Nazis. I myself threw it into the waste-basket after it was printed judging it was good for nothing. At that time I knew nothing of the snobbery of this human world.

    "I feel quite satisfied with the progress of the war and especially with the strength of the Russians. I remember quite well how I trembled for them when Hitler began his attack in 1941.

    "With kind wishes and greetings for you and your family yours sincerely, [signed] A. Einstein."

    Although Einstein's first manuscript of his 1905 special relativity paper was tossed in the waste-basket, he did produce another manuscript. In 1943, the librarian of the Princeton University library asked the physicist to donate the original manuscript for an auction to benefit the World War II War Bond drive. Einstein told him the same thing that he told Rothman in this letter, but Einstein then volunteered to handwrite a copy in English to donate for the cause. He finished the task in November 1943, five months before this letter was written. That manuscript was auctioned in February 1944 and was sold for $6.5 million to the Kansas City Life Insurance Company. "Economists will have to revise their theories of value," Einstein said after learning the auction price.

    Einstein ends this letter with a poignant comment about the progress of the effort to defeat Nazi Germany. A victim himself of Nazi oppression, Einstein fled Germany for the U.S. in 1933 and became a prominent voice against Hitler's regime. He might have literally "trembled" for the Russians during the 1941 German invasion.

    The letter's recipient, David Rothman, owned a Long Island department store. The two met when Einstein, on a 1939 summer vacation, stopped by Rothman's store and bought a pair of sandals. They learned that they had common interests - both played the violin and enjoyed sailing - and soon met at Einstein's rented cottage on Nassau Point to play music by Bach. The pair became friends and met often during the summer. On at least one occasion, Einstein sailed his small boat, the Tinef, across Great Peconic Bay to visit Rothman. Later that summer, the two were visiting on the front screen porch of Einstein's rented cottage when physicists Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner arrived from New York to inform Einstein that the Nazis might soon be able to produce powerful bombs based on nuclear chain reactions. Szilard and Wigner solicited the help of the famous physicist to warn world leaders of the danger. Einstein gladly complied and in August 1939 composed his famous letter alerting President Roosevelt about the threat. This letter exhibits minor wrinkling in the lower left corner.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    8th-9th Tuesday-Wednesday
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