A letter written by Albert Einstein on the day he renounced his German citizenship, after realizing he could not return due to the rise of the Nazis, is being sold at auction, JTA reported Tuesday.
Bidding on the letter co-written with his wife, and another written by the famed scientist, also to his sister, closes Thursday at the Nate D. Sanders Auction House in Los Angeles. The bidding for each starts at $25,000.
Four other Einstein letters, one from 1921 dealing with anti-Semitism in Germany and a second about his General Theory of Relativity, also are up for auction, with bids starting at $15,000, according to JTA.
The letter written with his wife, Elsa, is dated March 28, 1933, and was written aboard the S.S. Belgenland ship. The Einsteins wrote to his sister Maja Winteler-Einstein about the dire situation in Germany, just minutes before they docked in Antwerp, Belgium, where Einstein renounced his German citizenship.
Later that day, Einstein handed in his passport at the German consulate in Antwerp.
After the Nazis seized power in January 1933, they raided Einstein’s home when he and his wife were traveling to the United States. They also reportedly put a bounty on his head. The day the letter was written, the Einsteins were traveling back to Germany, intending to live at their summer home in Caputh, before discovering that the home also had been raided. This led Einstein to decide to renounce his citizenship.
“Oh my God, all of our friends either have fled or they are in jail,” Elsa Einstein first wrote in the letter after expressing concern that her husband’s children in Germany were in danger following an anti-Nazi interview he gave while they were visiting the United States.
“We will now look for a hiding place for the summer,” Albert Einstein wrote in concluding the letter.
In the second letter to his sister, dated December of 1938, Albert Einstein discusses helping Jews and other persecuted people flee German-held countries in Europe, including using his own funds to do so. He asks his sister to leave Switzerland and visit him in the United States.
The letters become the latest Einstein-related items to be auctioned off. In March, a violin once owned by the legendary physicist sold for $516,500 at the New York-based Bonhams auction house.
The instrument, which reportedly was gifted to the scientist in 1933 by Oscar Steger, a member of the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, went for over three times its estimated price.
A week earlier, a letter penned by Einstein discussing one of his groundbreaking theories sold in an auction in Jerusalem for over $100,000.
In June of last year, Winners sold letters written by Einstein about God, Israel and physics for nearly $210,000, with the highest bid going to a missive about God's creation of the world.
The highest bid of $84,000 was for a letter to eminent physicist David Bohm.
In 2012, a handwritten letter in which Einstein wrote his personal feelings on the existence of God and his opinions on religion, unconnected with his scientific theories, went up for sale on eBay.
German-born Einstein served as a non-resident governor of Jerusalem's Hebrew University up to his death.