EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Two autograph letters signed ("Albert" and "Albert Einstein") to Mileva Einstein-Maric, and one autograph manuscript unsigned, n.p. [Berlin], n.d. [second half of July 1914]. Together 5¼ pages, 8vo, one letter with integral blank, one letter on lined stationery, the manuscript with mathematical equations, diagrams and a few cartoon sketches.
"YOU WILL RENOUNCE ALL PERSONAL RELATIONS WITH ME"
In April 1914 the Einstein family moved to Berlin when Einstein took up an appointment at the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Mileva did not want to go: they had moved too many times since their marriage in 1903; she disliked Berlin, where she had no friends; she had never been accepted by Einstein's mother, who then lived in the city; and she was already suspicious of Einstein's relationship with his cousin Elsa Löwenthal.
The last fear was justified. As early as 30 April 1912, after a visit to Berlin during which he had seen Elsa, Einstein had written her that he loved her: "I have to have someone to love, otherwise life is miserable. And this someone is you." He denied being hen-pecked but admitted "that the sum total of what I do out of pity for her [Mileva] and for...myself in her presence creates such an impression" (Collected Papers, vol. 5, no. 389). A year later he was writing (23 March 1913): "What I wouldn't give to be able to spend a few days with you, but without...my cross" (ibid., no. 434). After his appointment to Berlin was announced in 1913, he wrote frequently to Elsa, looking forward to the time when they could be together and complaining that Mileva "is an unfriendly, humourless creature who does not get anything out of life and who, by her mere presence, extinguishes other people's joy of living" (ibid., no. 498). He told Elsa that he had no grounds for getting a divorce, but added: "I treat my wife as an employee whom I cannot fire. I have my own bedroom and avoid being alone with her. In this form I can endure the 'living together' quite well" (ibid., 488).
Some of the causes of the marital breakdown may be surmised: Mileva is said to have been a strong-tempered and moody person, and the loss of Lieserl appears to have depressed her from the early years of the marriage. With the birth of Hans Albert and then of Eduard she must have been overwhelmed with the cares of motherhood and housekeeping in a situation where there was little money available. She had lost the chance to have a career of her own when she failed to take her degree, and Einstein had turned to male colleagues for intellectual companionship and the discussion of scientific issues. Mileva had earlier shown signs of jealousy at Einstein's contact with other women and may have felt herself less and less able to hold his affection and attention. Hans Albert first noticed tension between his parents during the spring of 1912, when he himself was eight, the time when Einstein was renewing his contact with Elsa.
When Mileva arrived in Berlin, Einstein evidently presented her with a list of the conditions under which he would agree to continue their life together. The manuscript draft enumerating his terms gives a series of baldly stated requirements organized into four major divisions and a number of subdivisions: "A. You will see to it (1) that my clothes and linen are kept in order, (2) that I am served three regular meals a day in my room, (3) that my bedroom and study are always kept in good order and that my desk is not touched by anyone other than me. B. You will renounce all personal relations with me, except when these are required to keep up social appearances. In particular you will not request (1) that I sit with you at home, (2) that I go out with you or travel with you. C. You will promise explicitly to observe the following points in any contact with me: (1) you will expect no affection from me and you will not reproach me for this, (2) you must answer me at once when I speak to you, (3) you must leave my bedroom or study at once without protesting when I ask you to go. D. You will promise not to denigrate me in the eyes of the children, either by word or by deed."
Mileva turned to their friends, Fritz Haber and his wife, who served as intermediaries between husband and wife. In response to a communication from Mileva in which she had evidently indicated her willingness to agree to the conditions, Einstein wrote "to make the situation entirely clear": Undated [July 1914]: "I am ready to return to our home because I don't want to lose the children and I don't want them to lose me, but only for that reason. After all that has happened, there can be no question of a companionable relationship between us. It should be a loyal business-like relationship, in which the personal element is reduced to the minimum. I assure you that my behaviour towards you will be correct, as it would be to a strange woman...If it is not possible for you to live with me on this basis, I will find it necessary to separate from you." In response to a second communication from Mileva, he wrote again: Undated [July 1914]: "I consider further discussion useless and therefore ask you once more whether you are willing to live with me under the stated conditions. Think it over and give me a clear answer..."
At the end of July 1914 Mileva and her sons returned to Zurich. The further course of the relationship between Einstein, Mileva and their children is documented by the correspondence offered in this sale. A hint of Einstein's own feelings at the time may be provided by the curiously ironic notes he jotted on the same sheet as the conditions, perhaps reflecting things said to him by Mileva and Hans Albert (Adu), but characterized by himself as "bad jokes": "Go on, let your self be led around by the nose...Since you have been in Berlin, you have become quite nasty...You should know that people take an interest in the way the great man behaves." (3)