In July of 2006 letters Albert Einstein wrote were unsealed and the public received a rare glimpse into his private life of this unique individual.

Einstein’s stepdaughter, Margot Einstein, held the private letters in her personal estate, and decreed they remain sealed until 20 years after her death. The letters contained information about a person who was not as isolated as the public was led to believe. They were written at an extremely difficult time in his life – between April and December of 1915, when the pressure for him to complete his work on relativity was extremely brutal. His marriage to Serbian physicist Mileva Maric was dissolving at the time as well, and she had taken their two sons and moved to Zurich, which was extremely hard for him.

At the time, there was a shortage of food in Berlin and Einstein was suffering from acute stomach pains. His first cousin, Elsa Einstein, whom he later married, nursed him back to health.

The letters showed Einstein’s personal and professional struggles during this time. His sons had requested he visit them for Easter vacation, and he had replied that the war was making it impossible for him to visit, but he would come in July for a hiking trip in the Swiss Alps with his oldest son, Hans Albert (nicknamed Adu) and when his brother Eduard (nicknamed Tete) was old enough they could make it an annual event. He wanted to be with his sons as they learned math, and the piano, and was in agony that it was not possible. His tensions increased between is ex-wife and it seemed to be passed on to his sons through letters that became colder and colder. Einstein believe Mileva as dictating the letters to Einstein because they were so much different than earlier letters from his oldest son.

At the end of the summer he realized his research was flawed into the new concept of gravity – how objects moved through space and how space is curved around the objects. After three years of work he saw his approach was in error, and his friend and confidant, physicist David Hilbert had taken the information Einstein had been given him in privileged communication and was racing to come up with the correct equation first. Einstein was the better physicist, but Hilbert was the better mathematician. This stab in the back came as a complete surprise to Einstein and he felt the need to get the answer before Hilbert did.

Einstein struggled relentlessly to come up with his theory and went back to an earlier strategy, which he presented to Berlin’s Prussian Academy of Sciences on four successive Thursdays. He was also trying, in this time, to reconcile with his sons. The stress was beginning to take its toll on Einstein – between his sons and Hilbert, so he wrote a conciliatory letter to his ex-wife, and a tantalizing letter to Hilbert to fuel their competition.

On November 25 Einstein presented a fourth lecture to the Prussian Academy titled “The Field Equations of Gravitation.” It was, said Paul Dirac, the Nobel laureate pioneer of quantum mechanics, “probably the greatest scientific discovery ever made.” Einstein’s longtime friend, and another giant in the world of psychics, called it “the greatest feat of human thinking about nature, the most amazing combination of philosophical penetration, physical intuition and mathematical skill.”

Einstein was able to accomplish one of the greatest discoveries known to mankind while under extreme stress. It just goes to show that he was able to separate his work from his personal life with his ability to focus.

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 in awe of Albert Einstein and his life. I feel he was an example every man and woman can emulate, not only for his brilliant mind, but also for his humanity.



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