Short life history: Hans Albert Einstein

"I have also considered many scientific plans during my pushing you around in your pram!"

Albert Einstein in a letter to his son Hans Albert, June 1918

Short life history: Hans Albert Einstein

* May 14, 1904 Berne, July 26, 1973 Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA

Hans Albert, the first son of Albert Einstein (1879–1955) and Mileva Maric (1875–1948) was born in Bern in Kramgasse 49 on May 14, 1904.

Hans Albert’s childhood was a normal one. Einstein, who worked also a lot at home on his physical theories besides his work in the Berne Patent Office liked to take care of his son. Mileva reported: “My husband spends his pastime at home mostly playing with his son.” Einstein and Mileva’s second son Eduard (1910–1965) was born in Zurich in 1910. He was given the nickname “Tete”.

Einstein and his family moved to Berlin in 1914. As Mileva didn’t like Berlin and the marriage was broken she returned to Zurich with her sons only a short time later. Hans Albert suffered much from the separation of his parents. The marriage was divorced in 1919.

In Zurich Mileva took care of the education of her sons by herself. Hans Albert became an independent, intelligent and decent young man. Despite the separation Einstein often visited his sons and Mileva in Zurich. He also undertook little journeys with his sons. Hans Albert was a very good student. After passing his A-levels he began to study engineering at the Swiss Technical College (ETH - Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule) in Zurich. He wanted to become an engineer. He ended his study as civil engineer in 1926 and after that worked for some time as designer in the area of steel construction in Dortmund.

The relationship between father and son had been disturbed for many years. Only after Hans Albert and his first wife, Frieda Knecht, had married in 1927, did the relationship become a normal one. Hans Albert and Frieda had four children. Their first son, Bernhard Caesar, was born in 1930 and three years later the second son Klaus Martin was born. Klaus Martin, however, died already at the age of six on a diphtheria infection. In October 1939 David was born. He died one month later in November 1939. The fourth child was Evelyn, an adopted child born in 1941. Frieda died surprisingly in 1958 and one year later Hans Albert married the doctor Elizabeth Roboz. This marriage produced no children.

Albert Einstein and his second wife Elsa emigrated to the United States in the autumn of 1933. There he found a new working place in Princeton, New Jersey. Hans Albert went to the United States on his own in 1937 to look for work and a new home. He went back to Switzerland in January 1938. Only in June 1938 did he continuously stay with his family in the United States. There he worked as a research engineer at the Agricultural Experiment Station in Clemson, South Carolina. Until 1947 he worked as a research engineer at the Californian Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He went to Berkeley with his family in 1947.

Hans Albert’s brother Eduard began suffering from schizophrenia in 1930. He died in “Burghölzli”, a psychiatric sanatorium in Zurich in 1965. Mileva died in Zurich in 1948.

Hans Albert worked in Berkeley as professor for hydraulics at the University of California from 1947 to 1971. He gained international fame through his work. The relationship to his father got better and together they travelled through America.

Shortly before Albert Einstein died in Princeton in 1955, his son Hans Albert had spent many hours on his sickbed.

Hans Albert died on heart failure on July 26, 1973.


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