Albert Einstein (1879-1955). Autograph letter signed (‘Albert’) to Michele Besso, [envelope postmarked Berlin, 4 December 1918].

In German, 3 pages, 210 x 132mm. Envelope, bearing Einstein’s autograph return address (‘Abs[ender]. A. Einstein’).

Please note this is the property of a private consignor.
Published in Pierre Speziali (ed.) Albert Einstein. Michele Besso. Correspondance 1903-1955. Paris: Hermann, 1972. No. 50
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Lot Essay

Rejoicing at the death of Prussian militarism, and musing on the chaotic situation in post-war Germany.

'Something great has really happened. The cult of militarism has disappeared. I believe it will never return. Admittedly nothing stands in its place. Whilst south Germany proposes to develop more on the Swiss model, the Russian example [i.e. the Bolshevik revolution] dominates here alarmingly'. Meanwhile the government is struggling unavailingly against economic chaos, with the printing of banknotes and devaluation. Sittings at the Prussian Academy of Sciences are strange: 'the old gents are for the most part disorientated and dizzy'. Einstein refuses however to share their regret for the vanished world of Bismarckian arrogance, and retains his optimism. He remarks that his reputation as an irreproachable socialist has brought him a sudden strange popularity. He praises a paper by the mathematician Hermann Weyl: Einstein remains convinced that one of Weyl's propositions (on an invariable measure) does not exist in nature, and he has tried to impress this upon Weyl: 'But I know that someone who has been in love with an idea for more than half a year is not to be delivered from its spell, at least not by someone else'. He concludes 'This affair of my divorce is providing entertainment for everyone who knows about it...'.

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Einstein: Letters to a Friend Part I
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