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January 28, 1926

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

Autograph Letter Signed
2 pages
SMC 1791
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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