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Einstein Letter for Bloomsbury Auction

One of the highlights of Bloomsbury Auctions’ 25th Anniversary sale on 15th May 2008 is an unrecorded letter from Albert Einstein, in which the theoretical physicist wrote of his religious beliefs (lot 303).

Handwritten in pen in 1954 to the philosopher Eric Gutkind, in this extraordinary letter Einstein writes, ‘The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.’ Einstein was Jewish but went to a Catholic primary school, receiving private tuition in Judaism at home. He declined the offer from the newly formed state of Israel to be its second president. In this letter, which was written in German the year before his death, Einstein wrote, ‘For me the Jewish religion like all others is the incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity, have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything ‘chosen’ about them.’

Although Einstein emphatically rejected conventional religion, he was affronted when his views were appropriated by atheists, whose lack of humility he found offensive.

Einstein’s letter is expected to fetch between £6000-8000 at Bloomsbury Auctions, 24 Maddox Street, London W1S 1PP (Tel: 020 7495 9494 email [email protected]) on Thursday 15th May. The sale of the letter would be a fitting way to celebrate Bloomsbury Auctions’ 25th anniversary; today it sells more books than any other auction house in the world.

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