Nikola Tesla Letters
February 4th, 1963 letter from Charlotte Muzar to Kenneth Sweezey
February 4, 1963
I've finally thawed out enough to get to the office and do a little letter-writing. Ten days ago it got so cold during the night my car froze and I couldn't get it started and there was a 4-5 hour wait for the trouble-shooter from AAA, so I have nice day off.
Give my rewards to Veljko and tell him I am hoping to hear from him, also that he makes it to Detroit. He shouldn't miss us.
About the Tesla papers. Strangely enough, there was very little correspondence on this matter. I will put down what I know of it. Back in 1943 (is that the year) when Tesla died, it was a matter of very short time when Mr. K was issued a certificate from of by the Office of Custodian of Alien Property conveying to Mr. K full rights to the Tesla papers. As you recall he had them all packed up and sent off to the Manhattan Storage Company where they remained until ready for packing and shipping off to Yugoslavia in 1952. Mr. K paid for storage charges while he was in the States and after he left for England and consequently for Yugoslavia, I took care of the charges and from time to time was reimbursed by the Yugoslav Consulate General in N.Y. When Mr. K came to Washington as Ambassador he took over these payments. All this time the certificate from the Alien property office was in my possession (in case of need) and this certificate I turned over to Mr. K when I got to Belgrade in 1952.
You will perhaps remember that a number of times Mr. K mentioned the fact that the custodian at the storage warehouse told him that some government guys were in to microfilm some of the papers and Veljko will remember (perhaps not, as he was not there) that when we opened the safe in the present museum building the bunch of keys which was the last thing Mr. K flung into the safe at the New Yorker Hotel before the combination was re-set to a new combination were not found in the sage, but in an entire different box. Also, the gold medal was missing from the safe. (At one time I checked to find out what the cost of striking a duplicate would be and it was something like $357 so the idea was passed up). Anyway, for years and years Mr. K was bothered by the fact that Tesla papers had been gone thru and just before his departure from Washington in 1949-1950(?) he decided to follow my suggestion to call Edgar J. Hoover and ask him. Mr. Hoover denied categorically that the FBI had gone into the papers. This was a phone conversation.
All the years Mr. K was ambassador he hesitated in undertaking steps to do something about the Tesla papers. Just about a month or two before he was to leave he made up his mind. I think he wrote Wittenburg [sic] and made an appointment to come up to NY and talk to him about the matter. I came along, and was present at their meeting in Wittenburg's [sic] office. Mr. K told him that he was now leaving and before doing so would like to make arrangements to have the papers shipped to Yugoslavia. He asked Wittenburg to collect all outstanding and unpaid claims against the estate, arrange for the release of the property for shipment to Yugoslavia at the proper time (he would let us know), etc., etc. In the meantime Mr. K arranged for the Embassy to take care of the amount involved in the claims amount and for Wittenberg's fee. Mr. Kosanovic left and finally Mr. Wittenberg notified me and the Embassy that all was settled, the money was paid (this part of the correspondence I am afraid is Embassy files) and I waited for word from Mr. K. In the meantime he was busy in Belgrade making arrangements for a Commission to handle the matter at that end and when those arrangements were finalized (which just about coincided with my departure for Belgrade) he wrote me to go ahead and have the things packed and shipped. I got in touch with Ed Barrett (he was head of the Barrett Transportation Company down in the Battery district - don't know whether I have any correspondence from him anywhere - but he was in Yugoslavia during the war and is subsequently decorated by the new government for services rendered to the Yugoslav partisand [sic] during WWII) and he had all the arrangements made. At that time there was an organization of Yugoslavs in New York that packed and shipped clothing to Yugoslavia on the Yugoslav ships. I sailed from New York Sept. 7, 1951 on the M/S Serbija and met Barret [sic] on the boat just before we cast off. He then told me that he was down seeing to the loading of the Tesla papers and property (all his furniture from the New Yorker was included) and that now the matter was settled. He further told me that the workmen at the warehouse donated their labor and services to this packing as their contribution and tribute.
And so about the 27th of September 1951 the stuff got to Yugoslavia. I spent that winter teaching and just at the end of the course that I was involved in quarter to house the museum had been arranged for and the Commission on Tesla engaged me to assist in the inventorying the property. This I was happy to do and we (the Commission, Mr. K and I) spent a strenuous 3 weeks on this work in the hotest [sic] July I can remember. Veljko can take it from there. I will try to find the time to go through some of my papers and see if I can dig anything further up on this but the above is what and how I remember.
Whether Mica would have any of the correspondence connected with the Tesla estate I don't know. I do know that Mr. K had to secure release from the other heirs but that was not a complicated matter since he was named custodian of the estate and there was only Mr. K. Mica, her two brother and sister involved.
Thanks for your concern, but the FIRE was very far away from where I work. Some 50 miles - like LaGuardia Airport in relationship to the Newark Airport. My plant is way out in the country on the other side of town, so I was perfectly safe.
Yes, Bogdan and Duska are still in Belgrade. At least that is where my card from them came from. Do you have any extra pictures we took on our famous outing? If not, send me yours and I'll return them after I've looked at them for awhile, and depending on the skill of the photographer, maybe even sooner.
Write again. All best.