In 1939, physicist Albert Einstein wrote a letter to New York businessman Isidore Zelniker. In that letter, Einstein praised Zelniker's efforts in helping Jewish refugees leaving Europe during the early days of World War II.

That letter, typed on Einstein's own personal stationary, recently sold at the Nate D. Sander's auction house for $12,500.

Dated June 10, 1939, Einstein sent the letter from his home in Princeton, NJ, to Zeilniker, a Jewish hat seller in Manhattan. At the time, Einstein was teaching theoretical physics at the Institute of Advanced Study.

Einstein, who was born to Jewish parents, left Berlin, Germany, in 1933, just after Adolf Hitler became chancellor of that city. Hitler went on to become the head of the Nazi regime, responsible for torturing and killing Jews throughout Europe.

Einstein also worked in helping Jewish refugees escape the Nazi occupied countries in Europe. He also spent time urging world leaders, including those in the U.S., to act on behalf of Europe's Jewish population. This letter was one of many that he wrote thanking others for helping in that cause.

The letter's full text is as follows:

""My dear Mr. Zelniker: May I offer my sincere congratulations to you on the splendid work you have undertaken on behalf of the refugees during Dedication Week. The power of resistance which has enabled the Jewish people to survive for thousands of years has been based to a large extent on traditions of mutual helpfulness.

"In these years of affliction our readiness to help one another is being put to an especially severe test. May we stand this test as well as did our fathers before us. We have no other means of self-defense than our solidarity and our knowledge that the cause for which we are suffering is a momentous and sacred cause. It must be a source of deep gratification to you to be making so important a contribution toward rescuing our persecuted fellow-Jews from their calamitous peril and leading them toward a better future."

Einstein is most famous for developing the general theory of relativity, one of the key theories that make up modern physics. He's also responsible for the world's most famous equation: E = mc2. In 1921, Einstein received the Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect," which eventually led to modern quantum theory.

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