Einstein's Life ...through his writings

The Early Years | The Swiss Years | The Berlin Years | The Princeton Years

"A happy man is too satisfied with the present to think too much about the future."
1896 written at age seventeen

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
1952 To Carl Seelig, his biographer


"Strenuous Intellectual work and study of God's nature are the angels that will lead me through all the troubles of this life with consolation, strength, and uncompromising rigor."
1897 to Pauline Winteler

"No matter what happens, we'll have the most wonderful life in the world. Pleasant work and being together--what's more, we now answer to no one, can stand on our own feet, and can enjoy our youth to the utmost. Who could have any better?"
1900 To future wife Mileva Maric



"I have completely solved the problem. My solution is to analyze the concept of time."
1905 to Michele Besso


"I now have someone about whom I can think with unrestrained pleasure and for whom I can live... We'll have each other, something we have missed so terribly, and will give each other the gift of stability and an optimistic view of the world."
1913 To future second wife Elsa Löwenthal


"The theory is beautiful beyond comparison. However, only one colleague has been able to understand it."
1915 to Heinrich Zangger


"Starting from the reality of Jewish nationality, I believe that every Jew has duties towards his fellow Jews..."
1921 in Judische Rundschau




"What you call 'Max's materialism' is simply the causal way of interpreting things. This way of interpretation always merely answers the question: 'Why?' but never the question 'What for?'"
1919 To Hedwig Born, wife of Max Born



"The professor never wears socks. Even when he was invited to the White House by Mr. Roosevelt he didn't wear socks."
Recollection of Helen Dukas

"Here in Pasadena it is like paradise always sunshine and fresh air, gardens with palm and pepper trees, and friendly people who smile at one and ask for autographs."
1932 To the Lebach family

"Is there any way of delivering mankind from the menace of war? It is common knowledge that with the advance of modern science, this issue has come to mean a matter of life and death for civilization as we know it."
1932 To Sigmund Freud, published iwith Freud's Reply, as Why War? by the League of Nations

-- The Early Years --
Born March 14 at 11:30 AM in Ulm, Germany

Einstein family moved to Munich

Pupil at Catholic elementary school in Munich
Private lessons in Judaism at home

Pupil at Luitpold-Gymnasium, Munich
Religious instruction at school (until 1892)
Parents move to Milan

Six months later, Einstein leaves Gymnasium without completing his schooling and joins his family in Pavia, Italy

-- The Swiss Years --
Pupil at cantonal school in Aarau, Switzerland

1896 Renounces his German citizenship

Student at the Polytechnic (later the Federal Institute of Techonology), Zurich

Acquires Swiss citizenship
Completes his first scientific paper

Temporary teaching position at school in Schaffhausen, Switzerland

Daughter Lieserl born to Mileva Maric in Novi Sad, Hungary
Appointed as technical expert third class at the Swiss Patent Office in Bern

Marriage to Mileva Maric in Bern
Founds "Akademie Olympia" with Conrad Habicht and Maurice Solovine
Daughter Lieserl probably put up for adoption

Son Hans Albert born in Bern

The annus mirabilis : completes papers on light quanta, Brownian motion, and special theory of relativity
Receives Ph.D. from Zurich University

Promoted to technical expert second class at the Swiss Patent Office

Discovers the principle of equivalence

Appointed lecturer at Bern University

Resigns from Patent Office

Second son Eduard born in Bern

Predicts bending of light

Professor of theoretical physics at German University of Prague

Professor of theoretical physics at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich

-- The Berlin Years --
Appointed Professor at University of Berlin (without teaching obligations) and Member of Prussian Academy of Sciences
Separates from his wife, Mileva Maric--she returns to Zurich with the two sons
Signs anti-war "Manifesto to Europeans"

Joins pacifist "New Fatherland League"
Completes logical structure of the general theory of relativity

Publication of the general theory of relativity

Writes first paper on cosmology
Appointed Director of Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Phyics in Berlin

Suffers from a liver ailment, a stomach ulcer, jaundice and general weakness--his cousin Elsa Einstein Loewenthal takes care of him

Supports the new Weimar Republic in Germany
Divorces Mileva Maric
Bending of light observed during solar eclipse in West Africa and Brazil
First discussions on Zionism with Kurt Blumenfeld
Marries his cousin Elsa

Announcement at joint meeting of Royal Society and Royal Astronomical Society that Einstein's theories have been confirmed by eclipse observations
Sensational headlines in The Times and The New York Times
Einstein becomes a world figure

Mass meeting against he general theory of relativity in Berlin
Appointed special visiting professor at Leiden University

First visit to the U.S. with Chaim Weizmann: fund-raising tour for The Hebrew University
Lectures at Princeton University on theory of relativity

Completes first paper on unified field theory
Visit to Paris contributes to normalization of French-German relations
Joins Committee on Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations
Lecture tours in Japan and China
Awarded Nobel Prize for Physics for 1921

Visit to Palestine: holds inaugural scientific lecture at future site of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, named first honorary citizen of Tel Aviv
Visit to Spain
Lecture in acknowledgment of Nobel Prize in Göteborg, Sweden
Edits first collection of scientific papers of The Hebrew University

1924 The "Einstein-Institute" in Potsdam, Germany, housed in the "Einstein-Tower" starts its activities

Trip to South America: Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay
Signs manifesto against obligatory military service
Joins Board of Governors and Academic Council of The Hebrew University

Begins intense debate with Niels Bohr on the foundations of quantum mechanics

Suffers temporary physical collapse--enlargement of the heart is diagnosed

Intense activity on behalf of pacifism

Three trips to U.S.: stays mainly at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, during winter semesters
Supports conservation of the Weimar Republic

Public correspondence with Sigmund Freud on the nature of war
Appointed Professor at The Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
Plans to divide his time between Berlin and Princeton
Leaves Germany for the last time

-- The Princeton Years --
Declares that he will not return to Germany
Resigns from Prussian Academy of Sciences
Spends spring and summer in Belgium and Oxford
Emigrates to U.S. in September
Why War? published

Collection of essays The World As I See It published

The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox is published

Elsa Einstein dies

Publication of The Evolution of Physics

Signs famous letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt recommending U.S. research on nuclear weapons

Acquires U.S. Citizenship

Works as a consultant with the Research and Development Division of the U.S. Navy Bureau of Ordnance, section Ammunition and Explosives

Handwritten copy of his 1905 paper on special relativity auctioned for six million dollars in Kansas City, as a contribution to the American war effort

Shattered by the extent of the Holocaust of European Jewry
Shocked by the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Becomes chairman of the Emergency Committee for Atomic Scientists
Expresses public support for the formation of a world government

Intense activity on behalf of disarmament and world government

Supports creation of the State of Israel
First wife, Mileva Maric, dies in Zurich
Intact aneurysm of the abdominal aorta disclosed

Publication of "Autobiographical Notes"

Signs Last Will and Testament: Otto Nathan and Helen Dukas named co-trustees
The Hebrew University named as the ultimate repository of his personal papers
Collection of essays, Out of My Later Years, published

Offered presidency of the State of Israel

Public support for individuals under investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee

Co-signs the Russell-Einstein Manifesto warning of the nuclear threat
Rupture of the aortic aneurysm
Dies April 18 at 1:15 AM in Princeton Hospital at the age of 76
Body cremated and ashes scattered at an undisclosed place

File created: 8/01/2008

Questions and comments to: einstein@press.princeton.edu
Princeton University Press

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