Maritime Museum: Albert Einstein’s landing card on display

Albert Einstein’s landing card discovered
Legendary scientist’s immigration papers on show for very first time.

Immigration documents relating to Albert Einstein’s dramatic escape from Nazi Germany have been discovered and will go on show for the very first time at Merseyside Maritime Museum.

The landing card is on display from Tuesday 10 May 2011.

Einstein, one of the most prominent figures of the last century, fled from his native Germany when Adolf Hitler came to power.

The scientist, who was Jewish, arrived in England while a bounty had been put on his head by the Nazis who named him an enemy of the regime.

The landing card is proof of Einstein’s journey from Belgium to Dover on 26 May 1933. Now, after nearly 80 years stored away at Heathrow Airport, the landing card issued to the ‘father of modern physics’ has been discovered by curators.

Lucy Gardner, assistant curator of the Seized! The Border and Customs Uncovered gallery at Merseyside Maritime Museum said: “We didn’t know this landing card ever existed until we visited UK Border Agency officers at Heathrow.

“We were keen on acquiring any documents relating to immigration but were stunned to find paperwork relating to such a prominent historical figure as Albert Einstein. What’s remarkable is that the landing card bears his signature, has his profession as ‘professor’ and lists his nationality at Swiss.

“This shows how Einstein had renounced his German citizenship only weeks earlier in angry reaction to Nazi policies.

“This tiny piece of paper brings to life Einstein’s escape from the Nazis to England. This country became a safe haven for him until he eventually settled in the US.

“Without doubt this is one of the most important objects obtained for the Seized! gallery in recent years and we can’t wait to put it on display.”

Landing cards were completed by all passengers arriving in Britain. This card marks Albert Einstein’s arrival at Dover on 26 May 1933 from Ostende, Belgium. He describes his occupation as professor and nationality Swiss. On the reverse he states to Immigration officers he is bound for Oxford.

UK Border Agency National Museum (Seized! The Border and Customs uncovered) is located in the basement of the Merseyside Maritime Museum at Albert Dock. The landing card is on display from Tuesday 10 May 2011.

More details of the landing card:

Albert Einstein

Although Einstein spent time in Norfolk, Oxford, Glasgow and London it’s not believed he ever came to Liverpool. He was kept under armed protection while in England after the Nazis wanted him killed. Einstein’s discoveries in physics changed the way we look at the world. His Theories of Special and General Relativity (1905 & 1916) were groundbreaking. A world-wide reputation was recognised by a Nobel Prize for his contribution to science in 1921. Einstein held the respected position of professor at the Prussian Academy of Science in Berlin, Germany from 1914. But when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933 Jewish people were persecuted. Hitler announced a ‘Boycott of Jews’ day that year and ordered the burning of books which included Einstein’s. The repression continued with a ban on Jewish people being employed in the public sector, resulting in Einstein resigning from his position.

Einstein sought safety in Britain for several months in 1933 but eventually settled in America.

Until his death in 1955 he continued to work among the top scientists in the world and was vocal in his opinions on world politics.