September 15, 2005

Albert Einstein the genius and lover revealed

By Jeremy Lovell

LONDON (Reuters) - Albert Einstein was the outstanding
genius of the 20th century, but he was also an ordinary man who
had many affairs during his two marriages.

This other side of the German-born scientist who gave the
world its most famous equation, E=MC2, and who was declared the
man of the century by Time Magazine, is explained in a new
exhibition to mark Einstein Year.

Revered by leading scientists and the ordinary public alike
for his intellectual powers and sharp wit, and loved by
children across the world for his gently avuncular air and
unruly mop of white hair, Einstein was also a keen ladies' man.

"He was a passionate and very complex man, fascinatingly
full of contradictions," said Hanoch Gutfreund, Einstein
specialist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem which helped
mount the show at the Jewish Museum in London's Camden Town.

"He loved both of his wives but he went actively seeking
the affairs, and women also sought him out," he told Reuters at
a preview of the exhibition on Wednesday.

And while he cherished the mountains of letters he got from
children during his years at Princeton University in the United
States where he fled in 1933 aged 54, he had little contact
with his own three children by his first wife Mileva Maric.

There is no evidence he ever saw his daughter Lieserl who
was born in Hungary in 1902 before the couple married and while
Einstein was working as a technical expert at the Swiss Patent
Office in Bern.

Indeed her existence was not even known until relatively
recently -- discovered in love letters from Einstein to Maric
before they married in 1903 -- and all trace of her disappears
after that year.

His marriage to Maric -- an intellectual foil for Einstein
-- was against the wishes of his domineering mother as she was
Serbian and not Jewish.

The marriage produced two sons -- Hans Albert, born in
1904, and Eduard, born in 1910. But as the marriage crumbled,
she took the boys away with her.

"It was a very passionate love affair at the outset. But it
soured quite quickly and their divorce was very bitter,"
Gutfreund said.

Well before the marriage ended, Einstein had several
affairs and had begun a relationship with his cousin Elsa who
he promptly married after divorcing Maric in 1919 -- the year
his theory of relativity was proved and he shot to stardom.

Although Elsa was no match for Einstein intellectually she
did provide him with a comfortable home and there is no doubt
that he loved her, Gutfreund said.

But that didn't stop him carrying on a series of discreet
affairs before she died in 1936.

Maric died in 1948, while Eduard -- a schizophrenic -- died
in a sanatorium in 1965 and Hans Albert died in 1973.

Einstein died aged 76 at Princeton in April 1955, a
cultural icon to the world but still an enigma of towering
intellect with a turbulent personal life who had spent much of
his time in solitude.