Auction No. 115

Seforim, Letters from Rabbis and Rebbes, Chabad, Manuscripts, Art from Israel, Important historic documents

Wednesday, 24 July 2019 at 6 pm
Opening $2,500
Estimate $10,000 - $15,000

Letter written by Albert Einstein to David Bohm, one of the greatest physicists in the United States, who was persecuted for his Communist views. Einstein mentions Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in his letter, who was also persecuted for his political opinions.

David Bohm (1917-1992) was a Jewish physicist born in the United States, drawn to Communism from his youth; he also socialized with Communists. He moved to Berkeley when he finished his studies, where he was part of the theoretical physics group led by Robert Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer was later appointed director of the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb. Most of the members of Oppenheimer's group worked together with him on the Manhattan Project, but Bohm was not permitted to work there due to his extreme opinions. He stayed in Berkeley and worked on his doctorate. Ironically, his research findings were very necessary for the development of the atomic bomb, so that immediately after finishing his thesis, he was unable to access it because it was classified as secret. Bohm was unable to even defend his thesis because he was not allowed to discuss it. So his teacher, Oppenheimer, submitted his thesis for him. After the war, Bohm worked with Einstein in Princeton. McCarthyism started in the United States at the end of the 1940s. Many people suspected of being Communists were fired and interrogated in this framework. The House Committee on Anti-American Activities summoned Bohm to testify because of his Communist opinions. In light of all this persecution, he decided to immigrate to Brazil. He resided in Israel for about two years at the end of the 1950s, where he served as a professor at the Technion, after which he immigrated to Britain.

Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012) was one of the greatest architects of the 20th century. He grew up in Brazil in a family that was apparently Jewish, and he was also known for his Communist opinions. He was active in the Brazilian Communist Party. He began to be persecuted in 1945, and chose to immigrate to Europe. He resided for some time in Israel, and was involved in a number of projects, such as Haifa University, Kikar HaMedinah, and more.

In this letter, Einstein writes that Mr. Niemeyer's observation is characteristic of our times, and it reminds him of Germany in the era of Wilhelm II. (Wilhelm II was known as a very harsh Kaiser.) Einstein was known for the assistance he provided to those suffering from political persecution, and included himself in the blacklists prepared in the McCarthy era. Before us is a live example of how Einstein expresses his dissatisfaction with the political persecution of those years.

[1] page, paper. 27x21 cm. The letter was typewritten, and signed in Einstein's hand. Einstein's address is embossed at the top of the leaf.

Autographs of Famous Personalities