EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1955)
EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1955)
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EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1955)

Typed letter signed ('A. Einstein') to Dr Isidore W. Held, 112 Mercer Street, Princeton, 18 January 1945.

Details
EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1955)
Typed letter signed ('A. Einstein') to Dr Isidore W. Held, 112 Mercer Street, Princeton, 18 January 1945.
In German. One page, 280 x 216mm, on paper with Einstein's blind-stamped address. Provenance: Bonhams New York, 21 September 2016, lot 1145.

Hinting at the danger of nuclear warfare: Einstein warns of the prospect of a third world war, and describes as 'very wicked' any opposition to the proposed foundation of the United Nations. Held has sent a 'little book', evidently opposing plans for the foundation of the United Nations (which had been formulated at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference in August to October 1944). Einstein had in fact read the book a few weeks previously, and considers it to be 'not bad, but under the present circumstances psychologically misguided. For even if the prospects for the creation of an effective supranational body are slim under the present circumstances, it still seems to me very wicked to work in the press to paralyse this endeavour. For if one stops half-way, then the next world war is already certain today. This is all the more the case as modern technical development is increasingly bringing about preventive war-making, in that surprise attack provides an extraordinary advantage over defence'.

It is conceivable that Einstein's reference to 'modern technical development' in 'preventive war-making' is to the potential for a nuclear bomb. It had been Einstein himself, in the famous Einstein–Szilárd letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in August 1939, who had warned of the potential for a 'nuclear chain reaction' to be used for 'extremely powerful bombs of a new type'. The letter ultimately set in motion what was to become the Manhattan Project, which was at this date six months away from the first detonation of a nuclear device. The recipient, Dr Isidore Held (1876-1947), was a noted New York doctor and philanthropist: he and Einstein had collaborated in their efforts to assist Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany.
Special notice

This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Eugenio Donadoni
Eugenio Donadoni Senior Specialist, Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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