University Archives


Einstein on his "Cult of Personality" Used to Further Jewish Causes

EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Autograph Letter Signed, “A. Einstein”, in German, to Herman Bernstein, 1 p., Berlin, May 6, 1929, 5.875" x 7.375”, on personal stationary, printed with the address of Einstein's study, Haberlandstrasse 5, in Berlin. Formally Unpublished.


An important and handsomely penned letter, written to the organizing chairman of the Einstein Jubilee Committee which orchestrated the US celebration of Einstein’s 50th birthday. An event marked by great pomp and ceremony at the Metropolitan Opera House in NYC (on April 16, 1929), Einstein was publicly hailed by an audience of thousands and official tributes from heads of government all around the world were read – all acknowledging Einstein’s greatness and his contribution to humanity.

Writing with characteristic humility, Einstein here thanks Bernstein for his organizing efforts and the “great trouble which you and other friends have given yourselves over my unworthy person.” Continuing on, however, Einstein states: “I frankly have to admit to you that – quite apart from the case in hand – I do not consider such an extreme cult of personality to be a good thing. But I think that by doing so you wanted to serve the Jewish cause. In this regard, I thank you kindly."

Einstein rose to international celebrity in the wake of the 1919 eclipse experiment verifying the General Theory of Relativity. His fame grew throughout the 1920s and hit a new high note in 1929 with the publication of his latest work on Unified Field Theory, a publication that made front page news throughout the world. It is in such context of fame that Einstein’s 50th birthday celebration was planned and that the present letter was written.

Einstein himself issued a public announcement of thanks for the event, which stated: “You meet to celebrate a myth bearing my name. This proves, however, that in our time, amidst all the ill-omened striving after power and luxury, there still lives an appreciation for the eternal aims of the human spirit.”

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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