Description[John F. Kennedy] Albert Schweitzer Autograph Letter Signed. Two pages (two sheets), 8.5" x 11", Lambaréné, Gabon, December 20, 1963, to Gene[?] Keating of California. In this letter written in German, Albert Schweitzer, a philosopher, theologian, and medical missionary, discusses his philosophy, his work at his hospital, the recent death of President Kennedy, and fears of the use of an atomic weapon during the Cold War.
In 1952, Schweitzer received the Nobel Peace Prize for his philosophical and ethical work based on the idea of "reverence for life." He best exemplified this philosophy in his work at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon. "The work in the hospital grows," he writes, "especially because each year I have to add new buildings to the old ones, as more and more patients come to the hospital. Since four years I was no more in Europe, as this enormous work does not allow me to travel. . . . It is a great joy to me that my ethics of deepest humanity makes its way through the world. I thought it would be criticized, but by her truth she conquers the heart of the world. In many schools she is taught. . . . I write to you at my desk in the hospital. We are now 6 doctors and 15 European nurses. I never dreamt that this hospital would grow in this way."
Expressing sorrow over the death of President Kennedy and concern about the future of the Cold War standoff between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., he writes: "A great sorrow to me is the death of President Kennedy. We were in contact with each other in connection with the atom-weapon affair. The Moscow contract is one of the greatest facts in world history. So confidence grew between the two great Atom-Powers in the world. They agreed not to wage atom war anymore and not to construct great atom bombs. I wrote a letter with my congratulations in respect to the Moscow contract, which made him happy. After his death it will be the question whether this treaty will be kept and whether this question will make progress. Kennedy had a broad view and courage. Will he have a successor who walks in that way?" Though the great thinker died two years later, he noted in this letter that "My health is good. I may call myself happy, that at my age 89 I still can do my work." Schweitzer writes with bold ink; paper has smoothed folds.
Included is a two-page English translation in typescript. Appended at the end of the translation is a note from Miss Ali Silver: "Dear Mr. Keating, A Dutch lady, old friend of Dr. Schweitzer, typed this translation. She did not type since 1924 and she kindly asks you to forgive the many mistakes. With Kindest thoughts."
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