A rare letter being put up for auction reveals Albert Einstein’s concerns over antisemitism in American academia.
The 1936 missive, sent to Einstein’s friend Bruno Eisner, the Austrian Jewish pianist, when Eisner was staying in New York and considering a position in academia in the United States, is being put up for auction by the Jerusalem-based Kedem Auction House.
Einstein wrote in the handwritten letter: “A tremendous degree of antisemitism exists here, especially in academia (though also in industry and banking).”
The Nobel laureate elaborated: “Mind you, it never takes the form of brutal speech or action, but simmers all the more intensely under the surface. It is, so to speak, an omnipresent enemy, one that is impossible to see, and whose presence you only perceive.”
Einstein observed that “the assignment of positions is completely disorganized, so you find out about vacancies at any given location only through personal connections,” and revealed that his assistant was driven from the country by antisemitism and took a position in Russia instead.
Eisner went on to a career as a concert pianist and professor of music with positions at universities and music academies across the United States until his death in 1978.
The letter will reportedly be auctioned this week with a suggested price of NIS 40,000 (£9,600). Campaign Against Antisemitism has expanded our coverage of antisemitism worldwide. Please contact us if you would like to share feedback or volunteer to assist with this project.
Image credit: Kedem Auction House