December 05, 1919

Einstein Works Out Details of His 1919 Divorce from Mileva Maric - and Mentions Attending a Meeting About "the Planned University in Palestine"

Autograph Letter Signed
2 pages
SMC 1784
His marriage, for the last four years, had been ghastly, and now Einstein, in 1919, was finally getting a divorce - at which point their relationship improved, enough at least, to manage the divorce. This letter takes care of the some of the details:

It seems that we are condemned to a kind of gypsy-life. Under the present circumstances I can understand you very well. So we will postpone, for the time being, the issue of moving house for half a year. Time will bring an answer. You will immediately receive 4000 DM from Mr. Karr…I also prefer, of course, that Albert will not have to change schools. Completing school as soon as possible is not a good enough reason. He should, by all means, get his education as long as he is still of an educable age and should not think of a profession too soon. I suppose that he will study a technical profession. He shall have all the time just as I did.

Mileva would stay in Zurich, as would the boys; and when in 1921, Einstein won the Nobel Prize, he would send her the small fortune it awarded, as part of the divorce settlement.

On the verso, Einstein has penned a fond letter to his boys about their education, his education, and ultimately, the education of the Jewish people in Palestine. He begins with a intriguing comments about a science a project his eldest son has undertaken: “I don't believe that the propeller should be more at a slant. If it does not have much effect it is, in my opinion, a problem with the engine. One cannot calculate something like that because during the start-up (rest versus air) the prevailing conditions are quite different from those in the course of flight.” He continues that he is "pleased that you are taking lessons from Amberg. He is a very sympathetic man.... He was an assistant to Hurwitz when I was a fledgling student; at that time I was tested by him in the Repetitozimmer. He was then quite young. Seiler was also an assistant in the Physics building when I was a student. I liked him less..."

Tagged on to this reminiscence of the past, however, is a nascent glimpse of the future - to the thing in life, Einstein said, that gave him the most pleasure. On the 14th-16th of January, he announced, he would be in Basel "in connection with the planned university in Palestine." The very idea of a Jewish University, which had been conceived in reaction to 19th century European anti-Semitism and discrimination - and so brought forth at the 11th Zionist Congress in 1913 - was of this writing, just a newly-laid cornerstone on Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem. There was much to be done and Einstein, this letter attests, was involved in its establishment from the very beginning. When in fact Hebrew University opened six years later, in April 1925, Einstein told a reporter that "no public event has given me such pleasure as the proposal to establish a Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The traditional respect for knowledge that Jews have maintained intact through many centuries of severe hardship has made it particularly painful for us to see so many talented sons of the Jewish people cut off from higher education."
Autograph Letters Signed (“Albert”), in German, 1 page, quarto, no place, December 5, 1919. To his first wife, Mileva Maric.
On the verso is an Autograph Letter Signed (“Papa”), to his sons Hans Albert and Eduard ("Tete"), no place or date.
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