September 08, 1932

Albert Einstein on the Tragedy of Theodor Herzl’s Son: "A Warning to All Jews Against Defection From Their People.”

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Herzl, who gave birth to a nation, also had three children of his own. Their lives, however, were far from fulfilled, or happy, or glorious. One daughter was a homeless drug addict; another struggled with depression; and his son, the subject of this letter, was  a convert to Christianity.  Worse was to come: in 1930, the daughter addicted to morphine, died of an overdose; her brother, distraught at her death, killed himself a day later; only their sister remained, until 1943, when she was transported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, there to be killed by the Nazis. Here Einstein writes to son Hans Herzl's friend and biographer, Marcel Sternberger:
 
Your recent series of articles about Hans Herzl have moved me greatly.  His wasted life constitutes a warning to all Jews against defection from their people. For this reason I consider your book a praiseworthy effort in the interest of the Jewish community. You have my permission to make use of the above comment in any way in which it can gain attention for your book.
 
The book which Einstein mentioned was written, but many, many years later by Sternberger’s wife, Ilse. Princes Without a Home: Modern Zionism and the Strange Fate of Theodor Herzl’s Children, 1900-45 did, however, carry a blurb from Einstein.

Typed Letter Signed (“A. Einstein”), in German, 1 page, quarto, Caputh bei Potsdam, September 8, 1932. To Marcel Sternberger in Berlin.

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Transcript

Albert Einstein
Caputh bei Potsdam, September 8, [19]32

Herrn Marcel Sternberger
Berlin W.30,
Risenachrerstr. 5


Dear Sir:

Your article about Hans Herzl moved me greatly at the time. His wasted life constitutes a warning to all Jews against defection from their people.For this reason I consider your book a praiseworthy effort in the interest of the Jewish community. In view of my being overly busy, I am not in favor of a personal meeting.

You have my permission to make use of the above comment in any way in which it can gain attention for your book.

Very respectfully yours,

A. EINSTEIN