University Archives

Lot 249

Previous image preload Next image preload


Nobel Laureate Max Planck Signed Letter on The Murder of Moritz Schlick

Two page autograph letter signed on card stock, 5.75" x 3.5". Dated "June 23, 1936" and signed on the verso by Max Planck as "M. Planck". Accompanied by the original mailing envelope, 5.75" x 3.75". Near fine with the envelope neatly sliced open along the top edge.

Max Planck, a German theoretical physicist whose discovery of energy quanta won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918, writes a letter of condolence to Moritz Schlick's widow.

"Berlin, Grunewald, 23. 6. 36

Dear Frau Schlick!

Still reeling from the earlier impression of the news of the horrible accident that has affected you, I would like to express to you my heartfelt wish on behalf of my wife and warmly shake your hand and express our deepest sympathy with you. Your dear husband, a noble and distinguished man who was held in the highest esteem and regard by all who knew him, a man who probably never in his life did any harm to another, has been snatched from you and the world solely due to the wicked act of a madman! I find it difficult to conceive of a reason of fate in all of this. I can still see him so clearly before me, a few weeks ago, at your hospitable table, as I listened to his thoughtful and well-reasoned opinions in pleasant and stimulating conversation, and a few days later, at Mrs. Dub's, where he delighted me in such a kind and pleasant way. I, too, have lost a real friend in him. But what is that compared with your fate! May God grant you the strength to carry this [illegible] and to withstand the storms of life. Yours in admiration, M. Planck"

Planck's letter makes note of Schlick's murder. With the rise of the Nazis in Germany and Austrofascism in Austria, many of the Vienna Circle's members left for the United States and the United Kingdom. Schlick, however, stayed on at the University of Vienna. When visited by Herbert Feigl in 1935, he expressed dismay at events in Germany. On June 22, 1936, Schlick was ascending the steps of the university for a class when he was confronted by a former student, Johann Nelböck, who killed Schlick with a pistol. The court declared Nelböck to be fully compos mentis; he confessed to the act, and was detained without any resistance, but was unrepentant. The delinquent used the judicial proceedings as a chance to present himself and his ideology in the public. He claimed that Schlick's anti-metaphysical philosophy had "interfered with his moral restraint". In another version of the events, the murderer covered up all political causes and claimed that he was motivated by jealousy over his failed attachment to the female student Sylvia Borowicka, leading to a paranoid delusion about Schlick as his rival and persecutor. Nelböck was tried and sentenced, but the event became a distorted cause célèbre around which crystallized the growing nationalist and anti-Jewish sentiments in the city. (The fact that Schlick was not Jewish did not seem to matter to propagandists capitalizing on the crime.) 

Moritz Schlick April 14, 1882 – June 22, 1936) was an important German philosopher, physicist, and the founding father of logical positivism and the Vienna Circle.

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.


Online Payments Accepted

Accepted Forms of Payment

American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Money Order / Cashiers Check, Paypal, Personal Check, Visa, Wire Transfer


We do our own in-house worldwide shipping!

Applicable shipping and handling charges will be added to the invoice. We offer several shipping options, and remain one of the few auction houses who proudly provides professional in-house shipping as an option to our clients. All items will ship with signature required, and full insurance. Most items are sent via Federal Express, with P. O. Box addresses being sent through USPS. We insure through Berkley Asset Protection with rates of $.70 per $100 of value, among the lowest insurance rates in the industry. Our shipping department cameras document every package, both outgoing and incoming, for maximum security. In addition, we compare our shipping and handling rates against those of other auction houses, to ensure that our charges are among the lowest in the trade.

Upon winning your item(s), you will receive an invoice with our in-house shipping and handling fees included. ***We will ship to the address as it appears on your invoice, unless you inform us otherwise, immediately upon your receipt of invoice***

International shipments: In order to comply with our insurance provider, all international shipments will be sent via Fed Ex and customs paperwork will show a value of $1.00. International buyers should contact our office directly with any questions regarding this policy.

Third Party Shipping Option: If a third party shipper is preferred, the buyer is responsible for contacting them directly to make shipping arrangements. For your convenience, we have provided some recommended shippers. For your protection, we will require a signed release from you, confirming your authorization for us to release your lots to your specified third party Please copy and paste this following link into your browser: http://universityarchives.com/UserFiles/ShippingInfo.pdf. At that point, our responsibility and insurance coverage for your item(s) ceases. Items picked up by third party shippers are required to pay Connecticut sales tax. Items requiring third party shipping due to being oversized, fragile or bulky will be denoted in the item description.

Please see our full terms and conditions for names of suggested third party shippers.

After payment has been made in full, University Archives will ship your purchase within 5 business days following receipt of full payment for item.

Please remember that the buyer is responsible for all shipping costs from University Archives' offices in Westport, CT to the buyer's door. Please see full Terms and Conditions of Sale.

September 30, 2020 10:30 AM EDT

Westport, CT, US

You agree to pay a buyer's premium of up to 25.0% and any applicable taxes and shipping

View full terms and conditions

From: To: Increments:
$0 $99 $10
$100 $299 $20
$300 $499 $25
$500 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $2,999 $200
$3,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 + $5,000