Mileva Maric

Mileva Maric

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Mileva Marić (December 19, 1875 – August 4, 1948) was one of the first women to study mathematics and physics in Europe. She was Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

's fellow student at the Zurich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

Eth is a letter used in Old English, Icelandic, Faroese , and Elfdalian. It was also used in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages, but was subsequently replaced with dh and later d. The capital eth resembles a D with a line through the vertical stroke...

, and later became his first wife.


On December 19, 1875, Mileva Marić was born into a wealthy family in Titel
Titel is a town and municipality in the South Bačka District of the Vojvodina, Serbia. The town of Titel has a population of 5,831, while the population of the municipality of Titel is 16,936...

 in the Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

, Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

 (today in Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

) the youngest of three children of Miloš Marić (1846–1922) and Marija Ruzić - Marić (1847–1935). Shortly after her birth, her father ended his military career and took a job at the court in Ruma
Ruma is a town and municipality located in Vojvodina, Serbia at . In 2002 the town had a total population of 34,229, while Ruma municipality had a population of 60,006.-History:...

 and later in Zagreb
Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Croatia. It is in the northwest of the country, along the Sava river, at the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain. Zagreb lies at an elevation of approximately above sea level. According to the last official census, Zagreb's city...

She began her secondary education in 1886 at a high school for girls in Újvidék (today Novi Sad
Novi Sad
Novi Sad is the capital of the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina, and the administrative centre of the South Bačka District. The city is located in the southern part of Pannonian Plain on the Danube river....

 in Serbia), but changed the following year to a high school in Sremska Mitrovica
Sremska Mitrovica
Sremska Mitrovica is a city and municipality located in the Vojvodina province of Serbia, on the left bank of the Sava river. As of 2002 the town had a total population of 39,041, while Sremska Mitrovica municipality had a population of 85,605...

Beginning in 1890, she attended the Royal Serbian Grammar School in Šabac
Šabac is a city and municipality in western Serbia, along the Sava river, in the historic region of Mačva. It is the administrative center of the Mačva District. The city has a population of 52,822 , while population of the municipality is 115,347...

. In 1891 her father obtained special permission to enroll Marić as a private student at the all male Royal Classical High School in Zagreb
Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Croatia. It is in the northwest of the country, along the Sava river, at the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain. Zagreb lies at an elevation of approximately above sea level. According to the last official census, Zagreb's city...

. She passed the entrance exam and entered the tenth grade in 1892. She won special permission to attend physics lectures in February 1894 and passed the final exams in September 1894. Her grades in mathematics and physics were the highest awarded. That year she fell seriously ill and decided to move to Switzerland, where on the 14th November she started at the "Girls High School" in Zurich. In 1896, Marić passed her Matura-Exam
Matura or a similar term is the common name for the high-school leaving exam or "maturity exam" in various countries, including Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia,...

, and started studying medicine at the University of Zurich
University of Zurich
The University of Zurich , located in the city of Zurich, is the largest university in Switzerland, with over 25,000 students. It was founded in 1833 from the existing colleges of theology, law, medicine and a new faculty of philosophy....

 for one semester. In the autumn of 1896, Marić switched to the Zurich Polytechnic
Eth is a letter used in Old English, Icelandic, Faroese , and Elfdalian. It was also used in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages, but was subsequently replaced with dh and later d. The capital eth resembles a D with a line through the vertical stroke...

 (later Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH
Eth is a letter used in Old English, Icelandic, Faroese , and Elfdalian. It was also used in Scandinavia during the Middle Ages, but was subsequently replaced with dh and later d. The capital eth resembles a D with a line through the vertical stroke...

)), having passed the mathematics entrance examination with an average grade of 4.25 (scale 1-6). She enrolled for the diploma course to teach physics and mathematics in secondary schools (section VIA) at the same time as Albert Einstein. She was the only woman in her group of six students, and only the fifth woman to enter that section. She and Einstein became close friends quite soon.

In October Marić went to Heidelberg
-Early history:Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907; with scientific dating, his remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of...

 to study at Heidelberg University for the winter semester 1897/98, attending physics and mathematics lectures as an auditor. She rejoined the Zurich Polytechnic in April 1898, where her studies included the following courses: differential and integral calculus, descriptive and projective geometry, mechanics, theoretical physics, applied physics, experimental physics, and astronomy. Marić sat the intermediate diploma examinations in 1899, one year later than the other students in her group. Her grade average of 5.05 (scale 1-6) placed her fifth out of the six students taking the examinations that year. (Einstein had come top of the previous year's candidates with a grade average of 5.7. Marić's grade in physics was 5.5, the same as Einstein's.) In 1900 Marić failed the final teaching diploma examinations with a grade average of 4.00, having obtained only grade 2.5 in the mathematics component (theory of functions). Einstein passed the exam in fourth place with a grade average of 4.91.

Marić's academic career was disrupted in 1901 when she became pregnant by Einstein. When three months pregnant, she resat the diploma examination, but failed for the second time without improving her grade. She also discontinued work on her diploma dissertation that she had hoped to develop into a Ph.D. thesis under the supervision of the physics professor Heinrich Weber. She went to Novi Sad, where her daughter, referred to as Lieserl, was born in 1902, probably in January. Her fate is unknown: she may have died in late summer 1903, or been given up for adoption.
In 1903 Marić and Einstein married in Bern, Switzerland, where Einstein had found a job at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property. In 1904 their first son Hans Albert was born. The Einsteins lived in Bern until 1909, when Einstein got a teaching position at the University of Zürich
University of Zurich
The University of Zurich , located in the city of Zurich, is the largest university in Switzerland, with over 25,000 students. It was founded in 1833 from the existing colleges of theology, law, medicine and a new faculty of philosophy....

. In 1910 their second son Eduard
Eduard Einstein
Eduard Einstein was born in Zürich, Switzerland, the second son of physicist Albert Einstein and his first wife Mileva Marić. Einstein and his family moved to Berlin in 1914, but shortly thereafter Marić returned to Zürich, taking Eduard and his brother with her.Eduard was a good student and had...

 was born. In 1911 they moved to Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

, where Einstein held a teaching position at the Charles University. A year later, they returned to Zurich, as Einstein had accepted a professorship at his alma mater
Alma mater
Alma mater , pronounced ), was used in ancient Rome as a title for various mother goddesses, especially Ceres or Cybele, and in Christianity for the Virgin Mary.-General term:...

In July 1913 Max Planck
Max Planck
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, ForMemRS, was a German physicist who actualized the quantum physics, initiating a revolution in natural science and philosophy. He is regarded as the founder of the quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.-Life and career:Planck came...

 and Walther Nernst
Walther Nernst
Walther Hermann Nernst FRS was a German physical chemist and physicist who is known for his theories behind the calculation of chemical affinity as embodied in the third law of thermodynamics, for which he won the 1920 Nobel Prize in chemistry...

 asked Einstein to accept to come to Berlin, which he did, but which caused Marić distress. In August the Einsteins took a walking holiday with their son Hans Albert, Marie Curie
Marie Curie
Marie Skłodowska-Curie was a physicist and chemist famous for her pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes—in physics and chemistry...

 and her two daughters, but Marić was delayed temporarily due to Eduard's illness. In September the Einsteins visited Marić's parents near Novi Sad, and on the day they were to leave for Vienna Marić had her sons baptised as Orthodox Christians. After Vienna Einstein visited relatives in Germany while Marić returned to Zurich. After Christmas she traveled to Berlin to stay with Fritz Haber
Fritz Haber
Fritz Haber was a German chemist, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for his development for synthesizing ammonia, important for fertilizers and explosives. Haber, along with Max Born, proposed the Born–Haber cycle as a method for evaluating the lattice energy of an ionic solid...

 who helped her look for accommodation for the Einsteins' impending move in April 1914. The Einsteins both left Zurich for Berlin in late March, on the way Einstein visited an uncle in Antwerp and then Ehrenfest
Ehrenfest is a surname which may refer to:* Paul Ehrenfest, a Jewish Austrian physicist and mathematician** Ehrenfest equations** Ehrenfest model** Ehrenfest paradox and Ehrenfest theorem, named after him** Ehrenfest theorem** 32796 Ehrenfest...

 and Lorentz
Lorentz is a name derived from the Roman surname, Laurentius, which mean "from Laurentum". It is the German form of Laurence.Lorentz may refer to:- Literature :* Friedrich Lorentz, author of works on the Pomeranian language...

 in Leiden while Marić took a holiday with the children in Locarno
Locarno is the capital of the Locarno district, located on the northern tip of Lake Maggiore in the Swiss canton of Ticino, close to Ascona at the foot of the Alps. It has a population of about 15,000...

, arriving in Berlin in mid-April.

The marriage had been in difficulties since 1912, in the spring of which Einstein became reacquainted with his cousin Elsa Löwenthal (née Einstein), following which they began a regular correspondence. Marić, who had never wanted to go to Berlin, became increasingly unhappy in the city. Soon after settling in Berlin, Einstein insisted on harsh terms if she were to remain with him. In the summer of 1914, Marić took the boys back to Zurich, a move that was to become permanent. Einstein made a commitment, drawn up by a lawyer, to send her an annual maintenance of 5600 Reichsmarks in quarterly instalments, just under half of his salary. The couple divorced on February 14, 1919. They had negotiated a settlement whereby the Nobel Prize money that Einstein anticipated he would soon receive was to be placed in trust for their two boys, while Marić would be able to draw on the interest, but have no authority over the capital without Einstein's permission, After Einstein married his second wife in June, he returned to Zurich to talk to Marić about the children's future, taking Hans Albert on Lake Constance
Lake Constance
Lake Constance is a lake on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps, and consists of three bodies of water: the Obersee , the Untersee , and a connecting stretch of the Rhine, called the Seerhein.The lake is situated in Germany, Switzerland and Austria near the Alps...

 and Eduard to Arosa
Arosa is a town and a municipality in the district of Plessur in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. It is both a summer and a winter tourist resort.-History:...

 for convalescence.

In 1922, Einstein received news that he had won the Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 in November and the money was transferred to Marić in 1923. The money was used to buy three houses in Zurich: Marić lived in one, a five story house at Huttenstrasse 62, the other two were investments. The family of Georg Busch, later to become Professor at the ETH, was one of her tenants. In the late 1930s the costs of Eduard's care — he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

 — and institutionalized at the University of Zurich psychiatric clinic "Burghölzli
Burghölzli is the common name given for the psychiatric hospital of the University of Zürich, Switzerland. The hospital is located on "Burghölzli", a wooded hill in the district of Riesbach of southeastern Zürich....

"; overwhelmed Marić and resulted in the forced sale of two of the houses. In 1939 Marić agreed to transfer ownership of the Huttenstrasse house to Einstein in order to prevent its loss as well, with Marić retaining power of attorney. Einstein also made regular cash transfers to Marić for Eduard's and her own livelihood.

Marić died at the age of 72 on August 4, 1948 in Zurich, and was buried at Nordheim-Cemetery.

Role in physics

The question whether (and if so, to what extent) Marić contributed to Einstein's early work, and to the Annus Mirabilis Papers
Annus Mirabilis Papers
The Annus Mirabilis papers are the papers of Albert Einstein published in the Annalen der Physik scientific journal in 1905. These four articles contributed substantially to the foundation of modern physics and changed views on space, time, and matter...

 in particular, has been the subject of some debate.
However, the overwhelming consensus among professional historians of physics is that she did not. A few academics, outside the consensus among historians, have argued that she may have played some role.

The case which has been presented for Marić as a co-author of some of Einstein's early work, putatively culminating in the 1905 papers, mostly depends on the following evidence:
  • The testimony of the well known Russian physicist Abram Joffe, who gave the name of the author of the three Annus Mirabilis Papers as Einstein-Marity, erroneously attributing the addition of the name Marity, Marić's official name, to a non-existing Swiss custom. However, in the paragraph in question, in which Joffe stated that Einstein's entrance into the arena of science in 1905 was "unforgettable", he described the author (singular) of the 1905 papers as "a bureaucrat at the Patent Office in Bern", i.e., Albert Einstein.

  • An alleged comment from Mileva to a Serbian friend, which, referring to 1905, said "we finished some important work that will make my husband world famous", although this has been described as " unreliable third-hand gossip."

  • Letters in which Einstein referred to "our" theory and "our" work. John Stachel
    John Stachel
    John Stachel is an American physicist and philosopher of science.Stachel earned his PhD at Stevens Institute of Technology in Physics about a topic in General relativity in 1958...

     points out, that these letters were written in their student days, at least four years before the 1905 papers, and some of the instances in which Einstein used "our" in relation to scientific work refer to their diploma dissertations, for which they both chose the same topic (experimental studies of heat conduction), and that Einstein used "our" in rather general statements, while he invariably used "I" and "my" when he recounted specific ideas he was working on: "the letters to Marić show Einstein referring to his studies, his work on the electrodynamics of moving bodies over a dozen times... as compared to one reference to our work on the problem of relative motion." In two cases where there are surviving letters from Marić in direct reply to ones from Einstein in which he had recounted his latest ideas, she gives no response at all. Her letters, in contrast to Einstein's, contain only personal matters, or comments related to her Polytechnic coursework. Stachel writes: "In her case we have no published papers, no letters with a serious scientific content, either to Einstein nor to anyone else; nor any objective evidence of her supposed creative talents. We do not even have hearsay accounts of conversations she had with anyone else that have a specific, scientific content, let alone claiming to report her ideas."

  • The divorce agreement in which Einstein promised her his Nobel Prize money. However, Einstein made this proposal to persuade a reluctant Marić to agree to divorce him, and under the terms of the agreement the money was to be held in trust for their two boys, while she was able to draw on the interest. Based on newly released letters (sealed by Einstein's stepgranddaughter Margot Einstein until 20 years after her death), Walter Isaacson reported that Marić eventually invested the Nobel Prize money in three apartment buildings in Zurich.

There are no strong arguments to support the idea that Marić helped Einstein to develop his theories. Other Nobel winners, besides Einstein, have shared their prize money with their ex-wives as a part of their divorce settlements. The couple's own son, Hans Albert, stated that on marrying Einstein, his mother gave up her scientific ambitions. Einstein remained an extremely fruitful scientist well into the 1920s, producing work of the greatest importance long after separating from Marić in 1914. She, on the other hand, never published anything, and Marić was never mentioned as having been involved with his work by the friends and colleagues of Einstein, who engaged in countless discussions of his ideas with him. And perhaps most notably, Marić herself never claimed that she had ever played any role in Einstein's scientific work, nor even hinted at any such role in personal letters to her closest friend Helene Savić.


In 2005 Marić was honoured in Zurich by the ETH and the "Gesellschaft zu Fraumünster", and a memorial plate was unveiled on the house Huttenstrasse 62, her residence in Zurich, in her memory. In the same year a bust was placed in her high-school town, Sremska Mitrovica. Another bust is located on the campus of the University of Novi Sad. A high-school in her birth town Titel is also named after her. Sixty years after her death, a memorial plate was placed on the house of the former clinic in Zurich where she died, and in June 2009 a memorial gravestone was dedicated to her at the Nordheim-Cemetery where she rests.

In 1995 Narodna knjiga in Belgrade published the book Mileva Marić Ajnštajn by Dragana Bukumirović, in Serbian; three years later followed the play Mileva Ajnštajn by Vida Ognjenović
Vida Ognjenovic
Vida Ognjenović is a famous Serbian theater director, playwright, writer, drama professor and diplomat....

, later also translated into English.

External links