July 10, 2006

New letters reveal mysteries of Einstein’s love life

By Corinne Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Albert Einstein had half a dozen
girlfriends and told his wife they showered him with "unwanted"
affection, according to letters released on Monday that shed
light on his extra-marital affairs.

The wild-haired Jewish-German scientist, renowned for his
theory of relativity, spent little time at home. He lectured in
Europe and in the United States, where he died in 1955 at age
76. But Einstein wrote hundreds of letters to his family.

Previous-released letters suggested his marriage in 1903 to
his first wife Mileva Maric, mother of his two sons, was
miserable. They divorced in 1919 and he soon married his
cousin, Elsa. He cheated on her with his secretary, Betty

In the new volume of letters released on Monday by Hebrew
University in Jerusalem, Einstein described about six women
with whom he spent time with and received gifts from while
being married to Elsa.

In the early 1980s, Elsa's daughter, Margot, gave almost
1,400 letters to Hebrew University, which Einstein helped
found. But Margot directed that the letters not be released
publicly until 20 years after her death. She died on July 8,

Some of the women identified by Einstein include Estella,
Ethel, Toni, and his "Russian spy lover," Margarita. Others are
referred to only by initials, like M. and L.

"It is true that M. followed me (to England) and her
chasing after me is getting out of control," he wrote in a
letter to Margot in 1931. "Out of all the dames, I am in fact
attached only to Mrs. L., who is absolutely harmless and

In another post to Margot, Einstein asked his stepdaughter
to pass on "a little letter for Margarita, to avoid providing
curious eyes with tidbits."


The new batch of letters for the first time included
replies from Einstein's family, Hanoch Gutfreund, chairman of
the Albert Einstein Worldwide Exhibition at Hebrew University

This, he told reporters, helped shatter myths that the
Nobel Prize-winning scientist was always cold toward his

"In these letters he acts with much greater friendship and
understanding to Mileva and his sons," Gutfeund said.

Gutfeund said that though Einstein's later marriage to Elsa
was best described as a "marriage of convenience," he wrote to
her almost every day, describing, among other things, his
experiences touring and lecturing in Europe.

"Soon I'll be fed up with the (theory of) relativity,"
Einstein wrote in a postcard to Elsa in 1921. "Even such a
thing fades away when one is too involved with it."

Einstein lived and studied in the 1930's at Oxford, where
he hid from the Nazis. A German colleague, he said in a letter
to Else, had told him "to not even come near the German border
because the rage against me is out of control."

In the same letter, which he wrote in 1933, less than a
decade before the start of World War II and the Nazi Holocaust,
Einstein writes: "One fears everywhere the competition of the
expelled 'brainy' Jews. We are even more burdened by our
strength than by our weakness."