Albert Einstein Advises a Young Refugee From Germany, Then Controlled By What He Called "The Hitler Gang"

March 18, 1935

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Albert Einstein Advises a Young Refugee From Germany, Then Controlled By What He Called "The Hitler Gang"
Typed Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 796

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      At first the problem was difficult, then daunting, then insoluble: Hitler wanted the Jews out of Germany, but he would not let them leave. By 1933, those Jews wishing to emigrate had to pay an exorbitant exit fee, and if lucky, could take half their money with them. By 1939, they were lucky if they could take 4% of their savings – their property already having been confiscated, and their right to earn a living forbidden, by the Nazis. Those who could afford to leave, had next to gather affidavits, sponsors, certificates, and visas, that they might meet foreign quota requirements of age, skills, health, and relatives abroad. It was at this point that luck, for many, ran out: for even with the endless paperwork and bureaucracy, it was difficult, daunting and then almost impossible, to find a country which would allow a Jew to enter. This, then, was the refugee problem Einstein set out to solve when, after the advent of Hitler in ‘33, he declared he would not set foot on German soil again. Anyone who asked for his help in escaping Nazism, got it – and more, as this letter to a young German émigré to Los Angeles, reveals…
      Here Einstein, like a fond uncle, encourages “Miss Inge” – whom he apparently had known in Germany – to have faith that her economic condition will improve, that her badly-behaving relatives aren’t really so bad and that California, where she now lives, is a wonderful place to be: a lot more opportunity for her than in Palestine – or Europe, from which little good is likely. Distance, Einstein reminds her, is always rosy – so long, that is, as it doesn’t involve anything as repulsive as “The Hitler Gang.” And finally, if there is anything more he can do for her… a reference from him every now and then… just let him know, right away…
      Typed Letter Signed (“A. Einstein”), in German, 1 page, quarto, Princeton, New Jersey, March 18, 1935. To Miss Inge Stern in Los Angeles.
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      [Translated from German]

      Princeton, N.J.,  March 18, 1935

      Dear Miss Inge:
      I am delighted about the pretty picture, but even more about the fact that you have finally settled down in the distant West. A real Caputh starlet will surely find its way through the darkness. Just stay there if all possible: the country will slowly recover, and then there will be room for a brave girl. I think your relatives are also having a hard time, otherwise they wouldn’t have behaved so unsavorily towards you. The distance lets everything behave in a rosy glow, if it doesn’t involve a revolting thing like the Hitler Gang. In the long run, it will be a blessing you went to California, because not a lot of good is going to be expected anymore from good old Europe. I don’t believe you should strive to go to Palestine, since California offers better opportunities for you in the future. If you need a reference from me every now and then, let me know right away, and I will write one.
      With warm regards
      A. EINSTEIN.