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When he arrived in Berlin in the end of March 1914 Albert Einstein had a wife and two sons. The first Mrs Einstein, Mileva (né Maric), had been his classmate during physics courses in Zurich where they fell madly in love. His family would soon arrive from Zurich to join him in the new apartment.
On the train trip to Berlin he had a lot to think about, also in his personal life, and not without remorse. His love for physics and the mysteries of the universe were overpowering. Sometimes it blotted out all other emotions.
Frequent bouts of extreme concentration used to hit him when he forgot everything around him and callously demanded not to be disturbed.
Genius had its price, causing much collateral damage at home. By this time the marriage was in crisis. Berlin was meant to be a new start. But it didn’t happen. Fame and old habits got in the way.
As it turned out Mileva Einstein (né Maric) and the two boys returned by train to Zurich after only a few months in the rental apartment on Ehrenbergstrasse 33.
Albert, together with his friend and colleague the chemist Fritz Haber waved them off from Hauptbahnhoff. Albert was in tears. It was the day before the outbreak of World War I.
There was nothing wrong with the apartment itself. Mileva herself had found it with the help of Fritz Haber and his wife Clara Immerwahr during a house-hunting expedition in Berlin the previous winter over the Christmas vacation. It was clean and roomy in a tall building that was erected only a few years before, in 1910, built by Johann Nikleniewicz.
The white building is still there at the corner of Ehrenbergstrasse and Rudeloffweg. There is a plaque on it commorating Einstein’s time in Berlin. (A short walk from U-Bhf, stop Thielplatz U1).
The problem was that Albert Einstein remained hostile and taciturn. Mileva was constantly ignored and became isolated. Her mother in law had been fiercely agains the marriage and now hated her. Additionally Mileva feared her husband had an ongoing affair in Berlin with his cousin Elsa, a widow.
He spent most of his time away from home. Evenings he might be found hanging out with close relatives (Rudolf Einstein and his wife Fanny – né Koch – or their daughter Elsa & children) who all lived in comfortable flats on Haberlandstrasse 5. Or else, at closer range, a few streets away from his own Ehrenbergstrasse apartment, he would stay on late at Fritz Haber’s stately Director’s residence
entrance adjacent to Hittorfstrasse 24 – one can also enter through the main gate, Faradayweg 4-6; today the villa is used for scientific colloquia).
Einstein’s office was conveniently located in the Fritz Haber’s institute that had just opened in the Fall of 1912. as the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry.
Today it is called the Fritz-Haber-Institute of the Max-Planck-Society, the main complex is on Faradayweg 4-6 (Berlin-Dahlem).
If he wasn’t there during the day Einstein might be found in the city centre at Unter der Linden no. 6, i.e., Berlin (now Humboldt) University or alternatively Unter der Linden no. 8 where the Prussian Academy of Sciences and Humanities was located.
The latter is a block west from the university in the direction of Brandenburg gate. It now houses the State Library where you can still see the old Academy entrance if you go in there (see picture below).
John S. Rigden and Roger Struewer, The Physical Tourist. A Science Guide for Tourists (Basel: Berkenhauser Verlag 2009), pp. 81-90;
Dieter Hoffmann, Einsteins Berlin: auf den spuren eines Genies (Wiley – VCH 2006) – Ehrenbergstrasse 33 bldg on p. 12.
Einstein in Berlin – Arrival (Part II: fame, love and tears) by ‘OTA-Berlin Constituency Blog’ contributor Aant Elzinga from OTA Berlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License. If you use this article or parts of it, please refer to http://www.ota-berlin.de.