March 28, 1933

Just Prior to Renouncing German Citizenship, Einstein Tells Son, “I Will Not be Returning to Germany, Perhaps Never Again”

Autograph Letter Signed
2 pages
SMC 1792
Hitler didn’t waste an extra moment, when he came to power on January 30, 1933, to go after the Jews, in general, and Einstein in particular. It didn’t matter that Einstein was in Pasadena, California, teaching: the Gestapo repeatedly ransacked his Berlin apartment. Einstein, however, started for home in March, traveling across the States by train and the Atlantic on the Belgenland. A German Consul who had been a friend warned him not to go back: “They’ll drag you through the streets by the hair,” he said.  But it wasn’t until Einstein got word at sea that even his beloved little summer house in Caputh had been raided, that he decided he dare not enter Germany. On March 28th, just before docking at Antwerp, he wrote to his schizophrenic son, Tete:
 
I am glad to hear that you are better and particularly that you are enjoying art again and that you are playing Mozart. I had a strenuous time in America and will stay in Belgium during the summer, except in June, which I have to spend in Oxford. For the time being, I will not be returning to Germany, perhaps never again. I think of you very often: maybe I can visit you in person soon; I haven't seen you for a long time now. I am stepping into your footsteps and have started composing poetry from time to time…
 
Einstein then wrote out a long bit of doggerel, assumedly to do with Upton Sinclair and Sinclair Lewis, and urged his boy to “enjoy a calm, unproblematic life, where people are allowed to be mere spectators and not actors”. 
 
This letter to “Tete” wasn’t the only letter Einstein would write before disembarking. In one to the Prussian Academy - where he was a professor - he submitted his resignation; then, when he docked, he had a car drive him to the German Consulate in Brussels. There he turned in his German passport and so renounced, forever, his German citizenship. Hitler responded immediately: he confiscated Einstein's property and his money, and issued a photograph of Einstein, as a leading opponent of Nazism, beneath which were printed the words: “Not yet hanged.”
Autograph Letter Signed (“Papa”), in German, 2 pages, recto and verso, “On Board S.S. Belgenland", March 28, 1933. To His son, “”Tete.”

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