With the countless ongoing humanitarian crises of our times, it’s sometimes worth turning to the past for lessons. History, marked with conflicts and disasters that displaced millions of people, is a powerful reminder of the necessity of compassion.

During World War II, Albert Einstein was a powerful advocate for humanity (check out some of inspiring Einstein quotes for a powerful overview of his wisdom). And a rare letter of his just got released after sitting in a safety deposit box for 50 years.

The letter was found by a Chicago woman called Enid Bronstein, the daughter of David Finck, who corresponded with Einstein. The two men had never met in person, but they shared an instant connection that is now managing to touch hearts 80 years later.

Einstein wrote the letter in June of 1939, right before the U.S. joined the war. In it, he expressed his heartfelt gratitude for Finck’s work helping Jews escape the horrors happening in Europe.

As the persecution of Jews in Europe, especially Germany, increased in the ‘30s, Einstein himself had sought refuge in the U.S. And like many other members of the American Jewish community, the globally famed scientist explored ways to help the persecuted.

Born into an Ashkenazi Jewish family in the late 1800s in Germany, he faced many of the discriminatory and life-threatening policies of the Nazis. In fact, in 1933, he was barred from holding any official position in his home country. This last event convinced him to leave the country and become an American citizen a few years later.

Bronstein has donated the newly released letter to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, making it accessible to the public and generations of scholars to come.