January 28, 1926

Einstein: "The Theory of Relativity Has Now Been Proven Experimentally In A Very Satisfying Way"

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Writing to his ex-wife, with whom he is in rare agreement about the unsuitable nature of their eldest son’s prospective marriage to an older woman – very short, very plain, very blunt – Einstein pours out his frustration with Hans Albert’s choice, and his unhappiness with the “thorny” state of theoretical physics – despite the fact that “the theory of relativity has now been proven satisfactorily by experiment.”

The business with Albert concerns me greatly. I believe… that the girl has him firmly in her grip, but he is too naive to assess the situation correctly. In any case, we must do all we can to prevent this disaster. Haber's son has just got married, but to a fine, intelligent girl from a healthy family. That would suit me fine, too.

Hans Albert made the mistake – abetted, Einstein suggests, by Mileva’s “motherly heart” – of staying at home rather than going away to study: thus he “did not get to know the every-day lives of people,” Einstein frets – and worries that this might happen to their second son, Tete, unless Mileva gives him “a push… as soon as possible.” Hans Albert might look like him, he says, but Tete, with his disposition to be “impractical and not independent” is more like him in character. “Make sure that Tete is not too lonely but that he meets people,” Einstein instructs, “so that he will not have the same fate as Albert.” Not mentioned is that Einstein’s parents objected just as vehemently to his marriage to Mileva –  short, plain, older, with a limp.

He is happy, however, about one thing: that neither of the boys has chosen to follow him into physics. “The theory of relativity has now been proven satisfactorily by experiment,” he says. “But the problem of the relationship between gravity and electricity is shipwrecked, at least in my view. Theoretical physics is currently enormously thorny. I am happy that the boys have chosen other paths.”

Hans Albert married in 1927 after, what his daughter recalled, “explosion after explosion” from Einstein and Mileva. The marriage lasted thirty-one years, until his wife’s death. He became a professor of hydraulic engineering at Berkeley. Tete, although a promising student, was afflicted at the age of twenty, in 1930, with schizophrenia, and was in and out of institutions for the rest of his life.

Autograph Letter Signed (“Albert”), in German, 2 pages, recto and verso, quarto, no place, January 28, 1926. To his ex-wife, Mileva Maric.

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Transcript

28.1.26.

Dear Mileva!
 
I fully agree that you borrow some additional money in Zurich. Hopefully the rent of the house leaves you with a surplus of money, so that you can amortize it soon.

The business with Albert concerns me greatly. I believe, and so does Anschuetz, that the girl has him firmly in her grip, but he is too naive to assess the situation correctly. In any case, we must do all we can to prevent this disaster. Haber's son has just got married, but to a fine, intelligent girl from a healthy family. That would suit me fine, too.

I shall probably have to travel to Ludwigshafen near Mannheim for a few days in March, to hold two lectures. I will write more details later. If it coincides with Tete's Easter holidays, I will invite him to join me there. We can then spend a few days together and enjoy this nice region.

I found Dolly not very attractive, her mother much more. She is indeed rather pretty for her age, but a superficial and average person, of the kind which one sees running around large towns and of which there are far too many.

The Committee of the League of Nations recently held a session in Paris. But it would been have too complicated to travel via Zurich, especially as it is now the middle of the semester. But I shall definitely come in summer and will stay for some time with Tete in Switzerland. The theory of relativity has now been proven satisfactorily by experiment. But the problem of the relationship between gravity and electricity is shipwrecked, at least in my view. Theoretical physics is currently enormously thorny. I am happy that the boys have chosen other paths. I am curious to see what Tete will choose. In any case, one ought not to talk to him too much about it, because otherwise he will feel pressured, and he has a delicate nervous system. I remember very well how burdened I was by thoughts of a future profession, and after all, it isn't so difficult if one isn't seeking laurels, but, rather, is content with being useful and helpful. Make sure that Tete is not too lonely but that he meet people, so that he will not have the same fate as Albert. It must have been a mistake that during all his studies he stayed at home, and thus did not get to know the every-day lives of people. Give a push to your motherly heart and take care that Tete gets away from his mother, as soon as possible. It is all the more urgent for him as, from home, he is [inclined to be] somewhat impractical and not independent.  He resembles me, not in outward appearance, but in character, much more than Albert does.

Affectionate greetings
from your
Albert.