Elsa Einstein Biography

Elsa Einstein, the second wife and first cousin of Albert Einstein, played a significant role in the life of the renowned physicist. Born with the surname Einstein, she lost it upon marrying her first husband but regained it after marrying Albert in 1919. From their childhood, Elsa and Albert shared a friendly bond, which eventually turned into romantic feelings on her part. Despite Albert’s previous marriage, Elsa remained devoted to him and became a loyal and caring companion. She not only managed his career and daily life but also nursed him during his periods of poor health. Despite Albert’s infidelity, Elsa chose to stay with him, demonstrating her selflessness as a wife. Fleeing Germany during the Nazi regime, the couple relocated to the United States. Sadly, Elsa passed away in 1936.

Quick Facts

  • German Celebrities Born In January
  • Also Known As: Elsa
  • Died At Age: 60
  • Spouse/Ex-: Albert Einstein (m. 1919), Max Löwenthal (m. 1896–1908)
  • Father: Rudolf Einstein
  • Mother: Fanny Koch
  • Siblings: Hermine Einstein, Paula Einstein
  • Children: Ilse Löwenthal, Margot Löwenthal
  • Born Country: Germany
  • Died on: December 20, 1936
  • Place of death: Princeton, New Jersey

Childhood & Early Life

Elsa Einstein was born on 18 January 1876, in Hechingen, German Empire, to Rudolf Einstein and Fanny Koch Einstein. She grew up alongside her two sisters, Hermine and Paula. During the regular visits to her maternal aunt, she frequently played with her cousin Albert Einstein and developed a friendly bond with him. The two, however, parted ways in 1894 after Albert left Germany for Milan.

Marriages

In 1896, Elsa Einstein married Max Löwenthal, a textile trader from Berlin. The couple had two daughters, Ilse and Margot, and a son who died shortly after birth. Elsa lived with Löwenthal in Hechingen. She eventually divorced him in 1908. Following the divorce, she along with her daughters moved to Berlin.

Elsa started a romantic relationship with Albert Einstein in 1912, while the latter was still married to physicist Mileva Marić. Albert divorced Mileva to marry Elsa in 1919. He adopted her daughters, Ilse and Margot, and treated them as his own.

Elsa spent her entire married life acting as Albert Einstein’s gatekeeper, guarding him from unwelcome guests. She also acted as a driving force for his career and managed his everyday business affairs until 1928. As his partner, she accompanied Albert during his many professional trips. In 1921, the couple traveled to USA to help raise funds for a cause. A devoted and selfless wife, Elsa Einstein took the utmost care of Albert even though he has not an ideal husband. In 1917, when he became seriously ill, she restored him back to health.

Elsa Einstein’s love for Albert was one without expectations. She accepted him wholeheartedly even when he confessed to her about his extramarital affairs. Some of the women he had affairs with while still married to Elsa were Margarete, Margarita, Estella, Ethel, and Toni. It is unclear why Elsa Einstein stayed loyal to Albert even when he considered breaking off their engagement to propose marriage to Elsa’s daughter Ilse. However, Ilse declined his proposal as she considered him to be a “father figure” to her. This revelation was made public after Albert Einstein’s personal letters were acquired from Princeton University after his death.

Later Life & Death

After the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the early 1930s, Elsa and her husband couldn’t stay in Germany. In 1933, the couple immigrated to New Jersey, USA, after their property was seized by the government. Soon, Elsa travelled to Paris to take care of her daughter Ilse who was battling cancer. Not long after Ilse’s death, Elsa Einstein developed heart and liver problems. She eventually died on December 20, 1936.

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