EINSTEIN, Albert (1879-1955). Autograph letter signed ('Dein Vater A.E. I' to his elder son, Hans Albert, Princeton, 2 March 1949, 2 pages, 4to (some smudging and minor discolouration).
EINSTEIN CONCEALS FROM HIS ELDER SON THE TRUTH ABOUT HIS FATAL HEART CONDITION. 'Die Operation musste gemacht werden, weil mein Zustand sich langsam aber stetig verschlechterte und Verdacht auf das Vorhandensein einer Geschwulst bestand, der sich aber nicht bestätigt hat. Es sind Verwachsungen des Darmes gelöst worden, was die Funktion entschieden verbesserte [The operation had to be carried out, as my condition was slowly but steadily worsening and there existed some doubt as to the presence of a tumour, which however was not confirmed. The deformity of the bowels was resolved, with decisive improvement in function]'; Einstein goes on to say that nevertheless at his age the consequences of the operation will last months, and he is off to Florida for three weeks' recuperation. The remainder of the letter concerns itself with affairs in Zurich, and Einstein goes again into the origins of the corporation founded to prevent Mileva's house from being sold off at auction: 'The worries, vexation and costs it brought with it over the course of the years are simply indescribable ... The Corp. naturally never received a cent ... She however complained about me to everyone she could find, and I received letters from strangers reproaching me for my inhumanity'; then there was the sale of the house, for which he never saw an account, and for which the corporation, 'i.e. me', is now liable for capital gains tax to the tune of 5 or 6 thousand dollars, which he can ill afford. Now in order for the children to inherit Mileva's estate, Einstein is expected to indemnify it against third party claims; there is also the question of the responsibility for Eduard's care when Einstein himself dies: but in the end he hopes at least to 'die in peace, in the knowledge that I have done my best, even if without success'.
The operation to which Einstein refers had taken place in December of the previous year at the Jewish Hospital in Brooklyn, and, although it was prompted by gastric discomfort, it revealed that the root of the problem was an aneurysm in the abdominal aorta -- which was eventually to cause Einstein's death, six years later. His reference here therefore to the correcting of a 'deformity of the bowels' is an evident attempt to hide the seriousness of his condition from his son.