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1939 Einstein Letter Goes on the Block

A letter written by Albert Einstein to a Jewish New York businessman is up for sale.

“We [Jews] have no other means of self-defense than our solidarity and our knowledge that the cause for which we are suffering is a momentous and sacred cause,” Einstein wrote to Hyman Zinn on June 10, 1939, praising him for his efforts to aid Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria.

The typed letter, signed A. Einstein and on his personal embossed stationery, has been put up for sale by a West Los Angeles auction house, with a bidding deadline of 5 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, Tuesday, Oct. 11.

Einstein continued his letter, written three months before the outbreak of World War II, by telling Zinn, of the Manhattan Button Co., Inc., “The power of resistance which has enabled the Jewish people to survive for thousands of years has been based to a large extent on traditions of mutual helpfulness.”

“In these years of affliction our readiness to help one another is being put to an especially severe test. May we stand this test as well as did our fathers before us,” he wrote.

In conclusion, Einstein told Zinn that “It must be a source of deep gratification to you to be making so important a contribution toward rescuing our persecuted fellow-Jews from their calamitous peril and leading them toward a better future.”

Nate D. Sanders, owner of the Los Angeles auction house bearing his name, told JTA that the letter had been consigned by a Norman Zinn, presumably a descendant of the original recipient.

One day before the auction deadline, the highest bid stood at $3,058, but Sanders, whose company specializes in autographs by famous personalities, expects to sell the letter for between $5,000 and $7,000.

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