This beautiful and charming city of Bern occupied a special place in Einstein’s heart and, with all due distances, Bern is in my heart, too. Today, I revisited the Einstein’s museum and rediscovered another fact of this genial, but also, out most complex human being. His failed marriage with Mileva mostly touched me. Einstein’s parents, especially his mother, Pauline Einstein, didn’t like Mileva Maric, because she was a non-Jewish, older girl, from rural Serbia, and, in addition, with a club foot. Pauline Einstein, his mother, sent a series of severe letters to the mother of Mileva, claiming that she was taking advantage of her son… From this turbulent, but the intellectually fertile relationship was born outside the wedlock a girl named Lieserl, born in January 1902. Nobody knows her destiny, possible given for adoption (probably by Maric’ friend Helene Savic). Another possible outcome, according to Times magazine was this one: «And there Lieserl’s life was poignantly short. According to Zackheim, the little girl died at 21 months after a bout of scarlet fever. Zackheim even gives the date of her death–Sept. 15, 1903, when Vojvodina was darkened by a solar eclipse, the sort of celestial ballet between sun and the moon that would later provide the world with the first proof of the correctness of Einstein’s radical new ideas about time and space.»[1]

Maric was a more disciplined student than Einstein, as we can infer from the handwritten notes of both (Maric had a very careful calligraphy, full of detailed information; Einstein had a more careless calligraphy and not so detailed). Then, in 1914 their marriage was near the breakout (and Einstein already writing secret notes to his cousin Elsa) when he wrote a list of conditions to his return back to Mileva.


  1. You will make sure:
    1. that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;
    2. that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;
    3. that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.
  2. You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons. Specifically, You will forego:
    1. my sitting at home with you;
    2. my going out or traveling with you.
  3. You will obey the following points in your relations with me:
    1. you will not expect any intimacy from me, nor will you reproach me in any way;
    2. you will stop talking to me if I request it;
    3. you will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it.
  4. You will undertake not to belittle me in front of our children, either through words or behavior.

She stays a few more month with Albert before moving to Zürich with their two children. The marriage continued (although they were effectively far apart) for more 11 years, with the divorce taking place in 1919. Einstein married Elsa 4-5 months later in the same year. They agreed that Maric was to receive the monetary award of the Nobel Prize if he ever won one… But it was written in the stars and, in 1921, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics and the prize money was given to Maric. After the divorce, life was difficult for Maric, giving lessons to compliment her salary. But it was in 1930 that her life suffered a devastating blow when her son Eduard suffered a mental breakdown. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent the rest of his life in mental institutions. Hans Albert, her other son, moved to the United States with his family in 1938, joined the faculty of the University of California in 1947, but Albert and Hans were estranged to each other. Einstein loved flirting and had several female admirers with whom he exchanges letters. When the Nazis took power in the 1930’s, Einstein advised Mileva to return to Yugoslavia, under the suppositions that were safer. Mileva didn’t follow Albert advice and that’s was her lucky choice because soon the country was occupied by the Nazis…

As someone said, Einstein “a genius, secular saint, pacifist, humanitarian, indifferent parent, jokester, poet, dreamer, musician, world saver, father of the bomb, loyal friend, flirt, and fraud?” [2] He didn’t believe in Quantum Mechanics, but he was probably the superposition of all these qualities…


[1] Times magazine, http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,31490,00.html

(«Michele Zackheim, 58, a Greenwich Village painter turned writer, argues that the toddler was severely retarded and probably had Down syndrome.»)

[2] Discovery Magazine; http://discovermagazine.com/2004/sep/a-tangled-life