• By The Financial District


In 1927, a Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian-born physicist named Philipp Lenard penned a letter to a colleague complaining about recent achievements by Albert Einstein and musing that academia and the sciences were becoming dominated by Jews.

Lenard, an early supporter of Germany's Nazi Party, who was later dubbed by Hitler as the Chief Aryan Physicist, remarked that a prestigious appointment for Einstein was undeserved; he then wondered if non-Jews would soon be wiped out entirely. 

The original letter, written in German, is up for auction at Nate D. Sanders Auctions in Los Angeles. Bidding for the item, which also includes an English translation, starts at $16,000 US, according to the auction listing, Mindy Weisberger reported.

In the letter — written to physicist Wilhelm Wien, another Nobel Prize Laureate — Lenard bemoaned the "Einstein action," referring to Einstein's recent acceptance into the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in Munich, the auction listing says. The "shallow intellectuality" of academia uplifting Einstein was an "unexpected testimony of its domination by Jews," Lenard wrote. He went on to wonder how his letter might be viewed in the future, "provided any non-Jewish persons are still alive then," he said. From the start of World War II, the Nazis began systematically murdering Jews across Europe, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. By the war's end, an estimated 6 million Jews — more than two-thirds of European Jewry — had been killed.

Lenard, who was born in Hungary in 1862, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1905 for his work on cathode rays, leading to the discovery of electrons and X-rays, according to The Nobel Foundation. His experiments also explored the photoelectric effect — the ejection of electrons when light shines on metal — and he "never forgave Einstein" for achieving greater recognition regarding this phenomenon, The Nobel Foundation notes in a biography.