Albert Einstein may seem like a superstar, but he was human. Although many people thought of him as a recluse who didn’t seem to need people around him, quite the opposite was true. Einstein was a man of many emotions, just like the rest of us, and he had his share of heartache and disappoints.

His greatest disappointment had nothing to do with his work. It was that he was not able to spend more time with his sons, Hans Albert II and Eduard, as they were growing up. His marriage to their mother, Mileva Maric, a Serbian physicist, had dissolved and she took the boys to live in Zurich, Switzerland while Einstein stayed back in Berlin to complete his work.

Private letters, released in 2006 from the estate of his step-daughter, Margot Einstein (she decreed in her will the letters were not to be made public until 20 years after her death), showed Einstein’s love for his sons, and his feeling that their mother was poisoning their minds toward him.

Letters written by Hans Albert (nicknamed Adu) initially indicated his love for his father, and how much he wanted to spend time with him. Later letters were cold. Einstein believed Mileva was dictating the script because a family friend had told him the boy felt quite the opposite of what was in the them.

Einstein had been planning to spend Christmas vacation in Zurich when he received a letter from his son telling him he would rather go skiing. He expressed his hurt feelings about the boy’s letters to his friend Heinrich Zangger, “I just received the enclosed letter from my Albert, which upset me very much. After this, it’s better if I don’t take the long trip after all rather than new bitter disappointments. The boy’s soul is being systematically poisoned to make sure the he doesn’t trust me. Under these conditions, by attempting any approaches I harm the boy indirectly. Come, dear old friend, Lady Resignation, and sing me your familiar old song so that I can continue to spin quietly in my corner!…”

Einstein spent the Christmas of 1915 alone in his apartment in Berlin. That morning he took out of his satchel some of the drawings his son, Hans Albert had sent him and wrote the boy a postcard saying how much they pleased him.

He visited his boys at Easter, as he had promised, and things went well. Both boys were delighted to see him, and Einstein even wrote a note to Milvina thanking her for making things go smoothly.

Eventually the situation with his family got better, but it was a long and bitter battle for Einstein as well as his boys. Eduard, nicknamed Tete, eventually succumbed to mental illness and spent the rest of his life in a Zurich asylum. Hans Albert attended Zurich Polytechnic, where his parents had met, and studied engineering. He later became a professor at the University of California at Berkley. He was at his father’s beside when he died, April 18, 1955.

My name is Ron White, and I am a memory-training expert, memory keynote speaker, and two-time USA Memory Champion. I have always been interested in learning more about Albert Einstein, and found this part of his life quite interesting, and sad.



Time Magazine – Elusive Einstein Letters, July 17, 2006; pg. 50