Oct 26, 2023 - Sale 2650

Sale 2650 - Lot 66

Price Realized: $ 10,625
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 5,000 - $ 7,500
OF HUMANITY: "IF QUANTITY WOULD SUBSTITUTE FOR QUALITY WE'D BE IN GREAT SHAPE" (SCIENTISTS.) EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed, "A. Einstein," to Ruth Norden, in German, praising her translation, approving of her community with some exceptions [participants in 1939 World's Fair?], suggesting other acceptable candidates, inquiring about possible candidates from other countries, comparing a potential candidate to Freud, observing that people would be less vulnerable if their quality were as high as they are numerous, and expressing gratitude for a long telegram. 1 page, 4to; faint scattered soiling, minor loss to lower left corner, folds. Np, 21 December 1937

Additional Details

"You have done a great translating job and it is factually better than the original. The community that you take interest in seems very likable to me, except for Lindberg [Charles Lindbergh?], who hasn't shown much concern for the suffering of human beings. As far as Maderiaga [Salvador de Madariaga?] is concerned, I am not quite sure whether he is an honest human being--so I'll have to add a question mark to him as well. . . . I would also accept Andre Gide and Albert Schweitzer as well. Maybe [Ignazio] Silone as well . . . . Is there any Russian out there that seems acceptable and has not been decapitated yet? I know of none, and neither do I know any Scandinavian, Dutch, South American, Spaniard and none from the English Colonies. Just like with Freud; probably only to be used as a one-horse carriage.
"Looking at today's humankind, one can only notice with regret that the numbers do not make up for quality: if quantity would substitute for quality we'd be in great shape compared to tiny old Greece.
"Finally, I have to express my condolences for your poor wallet since you have sent such a lengthy telegram. I was very touched and will show it to your potential husband to keep him from making the wrong decision; so please keep me informed."
In September of 1938, the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company deposited a time capsule at the site of the 1938 New York World's Fair to be opened 5,000 years hence. The capsule contained letters addressed to the future inhabitants of Earth by luminaries of the day, including Thomas Mann, Robert A. Millikan, and Albert Einstein. According to a September 16, 1938 New York Times article, "Einstein Hopeful for Better World," the uncredited but "authorized English translation" of Einstein's letter contained the observation that "people living in different countries kill each other at irregular time intervals, so that . . . any one who thinks about the future must live in fear and terror. This is due to the fact that the intelligence and character of the masses are incomparably lower than the intelligence and character of the few who produce something valuable for the community. I trust that posterity will read these statements with a feeling of proud and justified superiority." It is likely that the translator of Einstein's time capsule letter was Ruth Norden, who was responsible for many of Einstein's English translations at the time, including "Why Do They Hate the Jews," published in Collier's Magazine on November 26, 1938. The work praised in the present lot is probably the very same time capsule letter translation.