Bern, Switzerland 2017
On July 13th, 2017; I entered Switzerland with car-rental from Germany and immediately visited the Areuse Gorge, (below).
Created when the waters of the Jura, cut through the region’s limestone deposits, the Areuse Gorge is a spectacularly narrow gorge, couched on either side by agricultural land and shallow rock-filled waters.
After hiking through gorge for 5 miles, I noticed that some stretches of the Areuse’s green-colored waters swirled into impressive potholes and rapids. The gorge was located in the three lakes region of the Swiss dept. of Neuchatel.
That evening I stayed at Bern, Switzerland and visited some historical science-related sites. In 1900s, Albert Einstein lived in Bern. Pictured above is the house that Albert Einstein lived with his family.
On January 6, 1903, Mileva and Albert Einstein got married in Bern and lived together in a single apartment. Both enjoy the new situation:
” ..I am a married man now and my wife and I live a nice and comfortable life together. She takes care of everything, is a good cook and always in good spirits..” ( Letter of Mileva to her friend Helene Savic in March 1903)
“..I am most happy if he is next to me and I am often angry with the boring office which keeps him busy during long hours…” (Letter of Mileva to her friend Helene Savic in March 1903).
In May 1904, their first son Hans Albert is born. Mileva is very happy.
“…I don’t find the words to tell you how much joy he gives me with his happy laughing when he wakes up or with his kicking around while bathing…” (Letter of Mileva to Helene Savic in June 1904).
Einstein worked at the patent office as a clerk examining patent applications, (pictured below). That same year he submitted his doctoral thesis and published four papers that changed physics forever. These Annus Mirabillis papers covered the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity, and the relationship between matter and energy (E=mc2). Einstein’s incredible year is celebrated in Bern at the Historisches Museum
of Bern with a special, permanent exhibition called the Einstein Museum. It is also commemorated at the Einstein Haus.
In spite of Einstein’s intense professional life and scientific activities in Bern, they both enjoy a happy family life during most of the that period. Towards the end of their time in Bern, Mileva takes stock of that period:
“..In mid October we are leaving Bern where I have spent 7 years of many happy but also difficult and bitter days…” (Letter to Helene Savic, 1909)
With the scientific success and the growing fame of Einstein, the close companionship of Mileva and Albert, first in Zurich and later during the first years in Berne, deteriorates considerably. Mileva feels expelled from scientific life which probably nurtures her latent tendency to jealousy versus outsiders.
At the end of July 1910. Eduard—named Tete—their second son is born. In his youth he is often plagued by illness and needs special attention. During a trip to Berlin in April 1912, Einstein meets his divorced cousin Elsa Lowenthal and in the following exchange of letters, he reveals his affection for her. After the move of the family to Berln the situation becomes intolerable for Mileva. Einstein’s demands for a continuation of living together are outrageous and he finally manages that Mileva, accompanied by Michele Besso, returns to Zurich with the two boys in summer 1914.
In spite of all the humiliations. Mileva hopes for a reconciliation and refuses to be divorced. Einstein agrees to financially secure the life of the family in Zurich and tries to stay in contact with his sons by exchanging letters. 1916, Mileva falls seriously ill and recovers only slowly. Einstein’s friends Besso and Zangger provide help and care for the family. In early 1918, Einstein again proposes a divorce and promises financial support for Mileva and the children, including the right of use of the total sum of the expected Nobel prize. On February 14, 1919, the divorce is legally executed in court in Zurich. The custody for the children goes to Mileva. Einstein eventually wins the Nobel Prize and give Mileva the awarded money.
Near the Einstein Haus, I found a unique city fountain that seems to represents Kindlefresser.
Atop a blue and gold column in the middle of Bern sits an ogre, his jaw gaping and teeth bared as he happily eats a baby. He is Kindlifresser—“the Child-Eater”—and hoisting his sack of ready-to-eat-babies, he forms the centerpiece of the one of the oldest fountains in the city.