Letter from Kai O. Pedersen to Michael Heidelberger
In this letter Pedersen, Heidelberger's collaborator on determinations of the molecular weight of antibody and other globulin
proteins during Heidelberger's visits to the University of Uppsala in 1934 and 1936, gave a pessimistic assessment of
the political situation in Europe and the Scandinavian countries on the eve of World War II, in particular on the Soviet occupation
of Finland. Scientific work was difficult under the circumstances, but Pedersen nevertheless was able to report progress
in his studies of the effects of different type and concentrations of salts on precipitin reactions between antigens and antibodies.
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
6 (166,852 Bytes)
1939-12-06 (December 6, 1939)
Pedersen, Kai O.
Reproduced with permission of Lennart Pedersen.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
World War II
Antigens and Antibodies: Heidelberger and The Rise of Quantitative Immunochemistry, 1928-1954
It is time now to send Christmas greetings to the States, since "Drottningholm" is expected to leave about the day
after tomorrow. I am anxious to start and write the first of my Christmas letters to you and wish you, Nina and Charlie a
very good Christmas and also a happy new year.
Here is Upsala (as in all of Scandinavia) our thoughts are going to Finland and we felt such a disgust, when we think of what
Russia is doing to her. For the moment it does not seem as Russia is advancing very much, but after all it will probably
only be possible for Finland to stop Russia temporarily, except if Russia gets engaged elsewhere.
The situation for the other Scandinavian
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countries does not look very bright. Germany has started to criticize Sweden very much in their radio-broadcast and it does
not seem quite impossible that Germany may want to occupy parts of Sweden before Russia is through with Finland. We may thus
risk a russian attack in the north and german attack in the south. Time will show.
And all these troubles we can thank Hitler for (or his worst man Ribbentrop). Do you think that these people have realized
that when Russia is through with Finland, etc. then it probably turns toward Germany. It is quite evident that all Russia's
strategic steps are directed toward germany. What does the real german (not nazi) say to all these things? What has the
Nazis not betrayed?
Do you remember Mystkowsky who worked here for some time in 1926. He has succeeded to come to Paris now, but he did not know
anything about his family who were in Warsaw
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We have sent some greetings to his family and the other day he got a post-card from Mrs. Mystkowsky saying that she and two
children were all right. I think he shall be happy, when he gets this message!
If the communications between Upsala and Denmark should be cut for instance through an[sic] german occupation of Denmark and
a german attack on Sweden would you and Nina be so kind and act as a mail clearing central? In some days we may send you
a list with the names of our family and their adresses[sic]. It may be necessary to send the mail via Switzerland, where
we have some good friends. Of course we do hope that it never shall be necessary to trouble you with this, but it seems better
to be prepared for the worst.
I have continued my studies on the salt effect on the sedimentation diagram for normal human serum. It is quite extraordinary
strong effects that one gets. When
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studied in a proper way it is possible to discover changes in the salt concentration (added salt) corresponding to less than
0.01 moles, for a given serum when the salt concentration is around the physiological one. It is also very easy to distinguish
between the different salts. Some show a quantitative difference, others as well a quantitative as a qualitative difference.
I cannot help thinking that this phenomenon is in some way connected with the regulation mechanism in the blood.--I hope to
be able to write a paper about these things soon. At the same time I shall show that some of Kelkwick's[?] problems with
differences between centrifuge and electrophoresis experiments are quite imaginary! My centrifuge and electrophoresis experiments
agree quite good with those published recently in J. Exp. Med. By Mcinnes, Longworth and [. . .]. I am so happy for my results
gained during the last months, because they seems to throw
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new light on the serum problem and I now know how to heat and understand the sedimentation diagrams for normal serum (and
also several of McFarlanes pathological diagrams). It has been a great help to have all these things to think upon during
this fall! Else it has been difficult with mental work.
At the institute work is going on more or less as usual and every working place is occupied, so we cannot take in more people
before some other leave. Since this spring we have 3 centrifuges and they have been in contineous[sic] use since I returned
from my interrupted (thanks to Hitler!) holidays.
I am so glad to have Arne back in Upsala again. I missed him very much when he was in the States. So many new problems have
arissen[sic] by the world situation. I am sure The is also glad to have Arne back again. While Arne was away [. . .] would
or could only discuss the affairs of the institute
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with me, now we also Arne!
We include two pictures of Lennant taken recently. We are both so happy for him and we enjoy him so much. He is almost always
in such a good humour!
Now I think that I must finish this letter. All my best wishes for Christmas and the new year to you, Nina and Charlie,