EINSTEIN, ALBERT. Two autograph letters, one signed ("Papa"), one unsigned, to Hans Albert Einstein, Princeton, 11 May and 28 December 1954. Together 2 pages, 4to, each with original envelope addressed in Einstein's late, shaky hand, postmarked and stamped.
"A COURAGEOUS AND, TO A CERTAIN DEGREE, HEROIC, KIND OF EXISTENCE": EINSTEIN'S LAST LETTERS TO HANS ALBERT
11 May 1954: "Honor compels me to confess that Frieda reminded me of your fiftieth birthday...Only on such occasions does one have the chance to express feelings. Otherwise, one is too shy. It is a pleasure for me to have a son who has inherited the principal side of my being. To transcend mere existence by expending one's best energies, pursuing an impersonal goal through the years, that is the best, indeed the only means, by which we can be independent of individual fate and mankind. For you, this [pursuit] is a search for the mechanisms by which water-courses are formed. Since you left school, you have never given this up, and can now look back on a solid accomplishment. This is what makes contentment and gives a sense to life. Common to both of us, too, is unremitting effort, a disinclination to join the majority and an interest in literature...It is a courageous and, to a certain degree, heroic, kind of existence." Einstein recalls a "characteristic incident" from Hans Albert's childhood: one morning when he went to shave, he discovered that Hans Albert had used his razor, secretly, for wood-carving. "This became a sort of legend." Einstein also remembers unusual things Hans Albert said when he was very young. "And now you are ripe in years, and a person of distinction." He advises him to keep his sense of humor and be kind to men, but "don't pay attention to what they say or do." 28 December 1954: An unsigned, and apparently unfinished letter, in which Einstein mentions his health, says that he is working, and comments that "the brain doesn't seem to need much nourishment." He found Hans Albert's ideas on whirlpool movement interesting; if he publishes anything, he should send a copy. The effects of marriage on Bernhard seem good. "'God's own country' becomes more and more strange..."
On 13 April 1955 Einstein suffered a rupture of an aortic aneurysm and entered Princeton Hospital. On the April 17 he requested writing materials and the last calculations he had performed. The following morning, he died.