Critique of Dord Krstić’s “Appendix” (1991)


By Allen Esterson


In 1991 Elizabeth Roboz Einstein, the widow of Hans Albert Einstein, elder son of Albert Einstein and his first wife Mileva Marić, published a memoir with the title Hans Albert Einstein: Reminiscences of His Life and Our Life Together (1991) which contains an Appendix (pp. 85-99) written by Dord Krstić entitled “Mileva Einstein-Marić”. Below is my critical examination of the contentions in Krstić’s Appendix purporting to show that Marić made substantive contributions to Einstein’s work in physics.


The form of my critique will be that I first quote in bold type statements made by Krstić, which will be followed by my comments.


(1) At the ETH [formerly Zurich Polytechnic], 1896-1900 (pp. 88ff.)


Krstić writes:

It was in this first year that [Albert and Mileva] fell in love. (p. 88)


This would seem to exaggerate the degree of their emotional involvement with each other for the first two years of the friendship between Einstein and Marić. There is not a single letter from their first year at the Polytechnic, and only four from their second year. Up to December 1898 Einstein was still addressing Marić as “Dear Fräulein”, and they only started to use the familiar form of address to each other in late 1899.[1] (In a letter of August/September 1899 Marić was still addressing Einstein as “LHE” [Lieber Herr Einstein].)


They were together at lectures and in the laboratory, and they studied the works of the great theoretical physicists and philosophers, analyzing and checking them line by line. (pp. 88-89)


There are 11 surviving letters by Marić, and 43 by Einstein. It is evident that they read books by theoretical physicists together (the letters show this was at Einstein’s instigation). However, whereas Einstein mentions such books he is reading, with occasional animated comments on them, in 12 of his letters, Marić does not discuss a single such book in her letters (though she discusses a book on hypnotism that caught her interest in one letter). Krstić’s writing that the pair analysed such books “checking line by line” is his own highly imaginative scenario.


Mileva and Albert were especially interested in James Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetic waves. In Einstein’s autobiography (Einstein 1949), he mentions studying theoretical physics with Mileva, and he explains that as a student he was most fascinated by Maxwell’s theory. (p. 89)


There is not a single piece of documented evidence that Marić was especially interested in Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetic radiation. She makes no mention of any ideas of her own on physics in any of the surviving letters she wrote to Einstein. Also, Krstić is in error when he cites Einstein (1949). This is not an “autobiography”, it is an autobiographical essay requested from him for a series of philosophical volumes, and is an account of the development of his ideas in which there are no personal details of his life, and no mention of Marić. Krstić is confusing this with a short “Autobiographical Sketch” (Autobiographische Skizze) that Einstein wrote for a volume edited by Carl Seelig, in which again Einstein concentrates on the development of his ideas, though he mentions in passing that when he was a student he studied extra-curricular books with Marić.[2]


That Krstić uses the fact that Marić read some extra-curricular books with Einstein, plus Einstein’s mentioning in his “Autobiographical Sketch” the well-known fact that when he was a student he was especially interested in Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory, to claim that Marić was also “especially interested” in Maxwell’s theory is unfortunately all too characteristic of his mode of argument throughout his 1991 “Appendix”.


Albert received his degree from ETH in 1900 but could not find a permanent job; Mileva never received her degree.


Nowhere does Krstić report that the four year course that Einstein and Marić enrolled in at Zurich Polytechnic was for a diploma to teach physics and mathematics in secondary, not a degree in physics as he makes it appear.  At first glance the statement quoted immediately above about Marić suggests that Krstić finds it hard to state explicitly that she failed her diploma examinations. However, the next item (see immediately below) shows that he gives the impression that she did not actually fail her diploma qualification, she simply “decided to give up her work” towards it.


In the summer of 1901…  At that critical moment, when there was no possibility of working with Albert in a physics laboratory, Mileva decided to give up her work towards a degree. (p. 90)


Krstić gives a completely false impression of events at that time. Marić had failed the final diploma examinations in 1900 (predominantly because of her very poor grade in the mathematics component, theory of functions). She failed the exam for the second time in July 1901 (with only a slightly improved mathematics grade). What she “decided to give up” was her work on her prospective doctoral dissertation. Krstić’s  suggestion that an important factor in Marić’s giving up working for qualifications in physics was that she couldn’t work with Einstein in a physics laboratory bears no relation to the documented facts.


Incidentally, at that time (late 1901) Einstein was also using Professor Weber’s laboratory at Zurich Polytechnic for his first attempt at a Ph.D. thesis, which was on the same topic that Marić had chosen for her diploma dissertation (heat conduction). Note that this topic was of no especial interest to Einstein, and was entirely distinct from his personal investigations: he recognized that a Ph.D. would enhance his employment prospects. (His bad relationship with the physics professor Heinrich Weber led to his aborting the dissertation in 1901.)


In 1902…Mileva wrote to Helen Kaufler Savic…: “We live and work as before.” These few words indicate how much they devoted themselves to each other and to physics. (p. 90)


Krstić dates the letter as 1902, but according to Popović (2003), this letter was written in the winter of 1900-1901, and the Albert Einstein Collected Papers dates it more precisely between 8 January and 19 March 1901.[3] Krstić’s dating cannot be correct, on more than one ground. It is written from Zurich, and Marić was not in Zurich during 1902. She had stayed with her parents in Serbia in the first months of 1902, having given birth to their baby, Lisserl, in January. By this time Einstein was living in Bern, and Marić went to live in Bern in June 1901, and remained there, with short interludes staying with her parents, for the rest of the year. The evidence of the contents of the letter also points to its being written in early 1901,[4] and Marić’s failure to mention the prospective post at the Patent Office in Bern among employment prospects for Einstein dates the letter before April 1901.[5]


Now in late March 1901 returned to his parents in Milan, and later held temporary teaching posts in Winterthur, Switzerland (where he resided from May to September), and Schaffhausen, Switzerland (September 1901 to January 1902).[6] This dates the letter cited by Krstić as March 1901 at the latest. Popović (2003) translates the sentence in question, “We are living and working as before”,[7] and the correction in the dating means it takes on a completely different complexion to that intimated by Krstić, as at that time Marić was writing her dissertation for her second attempt at the diploma examination in the summer of 1901. In other words, the sentence cited by Krstić does not provide evidence for collaborative work on advanced physics by Einstein and Marić, as it clearly refers to their working on, respectively, their Ph.D. and diploma dissertations.


(2) Marriage (pp. 91ff.)


After their wedding on 6 January 2003: Mileva and Albert created a pleasant home at Kramgasse 49 in Berne. They welcomed friends who were interested in advancing their knowledge of the natural sciences, mathematics, and philosophy. In this company they read and critically discussed the scientific works of famous authors. Albert, Konrad [Habicht], and Maurice [Solovine] met regularly, calling themselves the Olympia Academy. (p. 91)


Krstić’s account creates the impression that Marić had an equal role with Einstein in inaugurating the “Olympia Academy”, and that she was a participant on the same level as the others. In fact Einstein, Solovine and Habicht began their discussion circle before the arrival of Marić in Bern,[8] and, when they were held (as they generally were) at the Einsteins’ residence, she was evidently more an observer than a participant in the meetings. Solovine later wrote: “Mileva, intelligent and reserved, listened attentively but never intervened in our discussions.”[9] The Academy ‘members’ also went on summer hikes on which they would continue their discussions, but there is no indication that Marić ever went with them. Krstić has exaggerated Marić’s role so that she appears to have been a full participant in the Academy’s activities along with Einstein to accord with his central thesis that she was his scientific collaborator.


On May 14, 1904, Hans Albert was born. After the birth of their grandson, Mileva’s parents accepted the marriage. Miloš traveled to Berne to see his grandson and to present to his son‑in‑law the dowry – a bank book worth one‑hundred thousand Austro‑Hungarian crowns (about twenty‑five thousand dollars in those davs) – that he had withheld until then.


Albert, with Mileva's consent, refused to accept the money. Miloš wept when he told  his family and friends about his son‑in‑law's gesture and the words with which Albert had refused the dowry. Albert had said that he had not married Mica [Mileva] for money but because he loved her. In a 1929 interview by Misha Sretenovic, Mileva stated that Albert had called her his inspiration, his guardian angel; someone who protected him not only from life’s mistakes, but also from mistakes in his scientific work. This extraordinary gesture was well remembered, and ever after, Albert was called “our son-in-law” and was dear and popular in Novi Sad. (pp. 92-93)


What credence can be given to this hearsay report? It is presented more fully in the biography of Marić written by Desanka Trbuhović-Gjurić, who also cites the 1929 newspaper article by Stretenović.[10] However, whereas Krstić states Marić reported the words to which he alludes, Trbuhović-Gjurić writes that Stretenović interviewed a friend of Marić’s, Milana Bota-Stefanović, of whom more below. But first, here is the full statement that Einstein supposedly made to his father-in-law, Miloš Marić, on the alleged visit (which is undocumented in any of the relevant literature):


I didn’t marry your daughter for money, but because I love her, because I have need of her, because we are one. All I have done and achieved, I owe to Mileva. She is my brilliant inspiration, my guardian angel against the sins of my life and especially in science. Without her I would never have started my work, nor finished it.[11]


The identity of the person supplying this statement is not given by Trbuhović-Gjurić, so we can only assume it derives from Bota-Stefanović. However, the authenticity of the statement is immediately called into question by the fact that by 1904 Einstein had published only a few minor papers, and it is inconceivable that he would have spoken in such terms of what he had achieved at that time (which was minimal), and certainly not of his having “finished” his work. Nor is it conceivable that he would have said of Marić that without her he would never have started his work: as early as 1895, when he was 16, he had written an essay entitled “On the Investigation of the State of the Ether in a Magnetic Field”[12], well before he had even met Marić at the Zurich Polytechnic. And in a letter of March 1899 he wrote to Marić, “My musings on radiation are beginning to take on more substance – I myself am curious if anything will come of it”,[13] indicating that when he had just turned 19 he was already independently following up his extra-curricular interests in areas of physics which he sensed were ripe for advances.

The person cited as the source of the story, Milana Bota, resided in the same boarding house in Zurich as Marić when they were students, and they had become friends. However, once Bota left Zurich in March 1900 (she married later that year), they were rarely in contact with one another. In fact Marić’s letters to her closest friend Helene Kaufler show they ceased to be in contact from 1901 to 1912, and then made only intermittent contact by letter some time after 1912, before losing it again in the 1920s, with only a short period of contact by mail around 1928-1929.[14] That being the case, one wonders how Bota was able to have such knowledge of the alleged statement. Then there is the issue of how it could be recalled with such accuracy so long after the alleged events (it could only have been passed on second-hand to any third parties by Miloš Marić, as there is no suggestion that anyone outside the Einstein family was present). And over and above all this, the internal absurdities in the statement suffice to call the whole story into question.

After Hans Albert’s birth, the couple worked even harder than before…While he was at the patent office, Mileva took care of the baby and the house and worked at home. At night, when silence fell on the town, the young couple sat together at the table and worked by light from a kerosene lantern on problems in physics. (p. 93)

Krstić provides no evidence for this scenario, and it can hardly have been reliably provided by Hans Albert, who visited Krstić in 1971 and who was a baby or infant at the time in question. We know that Marić gave Einstein some limited assistance around 1909-1910 in the preparation of elementary lecture notes for his post at Zurich University at a time when he was under pressure to prepare his lectures while being very much involved with his own work in physics.[15] If Krstić’s statement above is based on what Hans Albert told him, it has to be asked how the latter could have known what Marić had been working on, and one must also ask about the reliability of details of a recollection from more than a half-century before.[16]


When [Einstein] had finished this momentous [1905 relativity] paper…he and Mileva decided to take a holiday in Vojvodina…The couple continued their discussions of physics, in particular on the question of energy in the relativity theory. (p. 93)


This can only be doubtful hearsay evidence obtained by Krstić many decades after the events from people who would have no knowledge of physics, with all the unreliability of such information from interested parties. (See immediately below.)


[D]uring that visit Mileva told her father and her good friend Desana Tapavica who was married to Dr Bala, the mayor of Novi Sad, “Just before we left for Novi Sad, we finished some important work that will make my husband world famous!” (personal verbal communication, Sida Gajin 1955, and also Zarko Marić 1961). (pp. 93-94)


This report says much about the calibre of Krstić’s scholarship. The quotation comprises hearsay recollections from two interested parties who were not present, reporting something supposedly said by Marić some fifty or more years earlier. Who knows exactly what Marić told her father at that time, or what she meant by it? Certainly in 1906, in a letter in which Marić reported to her closest friend Helene Kaufler that “the papers he [Einstein] has written are already mounting high”, there is not the slightest hint that she played any role in any of these.[17] (Nor is there any such hint in any of the letters that Marić wrote to Kaufler at any time.)


After the couple returned to Berne, Albert wrote to Konrad Habicht about the fascinating ideas formed in Novi Sad. In September of 1905, the short article about the relationship between mass and energy – now familiar to the world as E = mc2 – was submitted to Annalen der Physik. (p. 94)


In the letter to Habicht in question, Einstein wrote as follows, after an allusion to “the topic of spectral lines”: A consequence of the study on electrodynamics did cross my mind. Namely, the relativity principle, in association with Maxwell’s fundamental equations, requires that the mass be a direct measure of the energy contained in a body; light carries mass with it. A noticeable reduction of mass would have to take place in the case of radium.”[18] There is no mention here that Einstein developed these ideas at Novi Sad, as Krstić would have us believe, nor of any input from Marić. Stachel and Torretti’s discussion of Einstein’s derivation of the mass-energy equivalence relationship shows the level of sophisticated physics involved;[19] there is not a single piece of documented evidence that Marić had maintained the kind of involvement with advanced physics that would have been necessary to play any role in the development of such ideas. On the contrary, her few  letters to Helene Kaufler in the early years of her marriage to Einstein make no mention of any interest in physics, nor involvement with Einstein’s researches. They are entirely devoted to mutually interesting personal matters, such as the time taken by her household duties, and her joy in the behaviour of infant Hans Albert, while remarking occasionally on Einstein’s work at the Patent Office or the papers that he has written.[20]


With Paul Habicht (brother of Konrad), Mileva and Albert developed, in 1907, an instrument for measuring small voltages (Seelig 1960, 97-98). They registered this at the Swiss Patent Office in Berne (patent number 35693) under the name Einstein-Habicht. (p. 94)

The development of the little instrument (Maschinchen) is well documented from the time Einstein reported to the Habicht brothers on 15 July 1907,  “I have found yet another method of measuring very small amounts of [electrical] energy”, to the manufacturing of the device.[21] Paul Habicht had recently started a small instrument-making company, and by 16 August 1907 had already produced the first model of the Maschinchen. There are numerous letters exchanged between Einstein and the Habicht brothers (mostly Paul) in the years 1907-1911 in  which the “machine” is discussed, but there is no mention of any contribution from Marić.[22] Eight of these letters are from Paul, none containing any indication of any collaboration with Marić on the project. (In two of these Paul adds conventional “greetings to your wife” and their little boy.)  It is highly unlikely that he would not have involved Marić in his discussion of the device had she had been the co-inventor with Einstein as Krstić contends. The Einstein biographer Carl Seelig mentions the discussions between Paul and Einstein on the device, and writes of “their attempts to perfect it with occasional help from Mileva”.[23] In the rest of his account Seelig refers only to the ongoing collaboration on the device between Einstein and the Habicht brothers, so his testimony does not conflict with the conclusion to be drawn from the considerable documentary evidence that any contribution from Marić could only have been very limited. It was certainly not the case that, as Krstić would have us believe, Marić and Einstein jointly developed the instrument.

At the beginning of the next year [1911] Mileva wrote to Helene Savic [née Kaufler] in Belgrade about the popularity of Einstein’s lectures at the university, adding, “I never miss the opportunity to listen to them.” (p. 95)

It should be noted here that Marić is referring to Einstein’s occasional public lectures when she writes she never misses an opportunity of hearing them, not to his lectures given to students at Zurich University.[24]

In the summer of 1910 Hans Albert was joined by a younger brother, Eduard. Their mother was very busy now. After the housework was done and the children were asleep, Mileva worked late into the night with her husband. Svetozar Varičak, son of one of the first relativists (Dr. V1adimir Varičak from Zagreb), lived in the Einstein apartment in Zurich. (Personally meeting Varičak at a symposium, Albert Einstein had offered Professor Varičak the possibility that his son could stay with the Einstein family while studying in Zurich.) Years later, Svetozar told his daughter that he used to help Mrs. Einstein with the housework, out of compassion for her. (p. 95)

Evidently the information contained in this paragraph comes from a passage in Trbuhović-Gjurić’s biography of Marić.[25] In the story as recounted by Trbuhović-Gjurić, Svetozar Varičak, who was a student who lodged with the Einsteins, was reported by his daughter as having recalled to her that after completing her domestic work, Marić worked beyond midnight solving “mathematical problems” from Einstein’s notes. Krstić places this time as after the Einstein’s second son, Eduard, was born in the summer of 1910, and this is consistent with Trbuhović-Gjurić’s account. (It is worth noting that in this account the father of Svetozar Varičak is said to have met Einstein at a mathematical conference in Berlin in 1910, but there is no record of Einstein’s having been in Berlin in 1910, nor is it likely he would have attended a mathematical conference.)


Now Einstein was gifted at conventional mathematics,[26] whereas in 1900 Marić failed her Zurich Polytechnic diploma course for teaching physics and mathematics in secondary school on account of her very poor grade in the mathematics component of the exam (theory of functions).[27] (She failed a second time in 1901 for the same reason.) We know that Marić gave Einstein some limited assistance around this period in the preparation of elementary University lecture notes at a time when he was under pressure to prepare his lectures while being very much involved with his own work in physics, as letters he was exchanging with other physicists at the time testify.[28] Trbuhović-Gjurić’s research was conducted in the 1960s [29], so any report she had from Varičak’s daughter (if that was her source, as it appears from Trbuhović-Gjurić’s account) would have been a hearsay account given many decades after the events. Given the limitations in Marić’s mathematical abilities, and Einstein’s strength, even if we give credence to such an unreliable report any work done by Marić is likely to have been the help she gave in 1909-1910 in the preparation of notes for Einstein’s elementary lectures for his teaching post at Zurich University. In addition, it should be kept in mind that Trbuhović-Gjurić’s reports are themselves unreliable,[30] so effectively we have a third-hand report about events some fifty years earlier that is inherently highly improbable. In short any such stories about Marić solving Einstein’s mathematics problems should be taken with a large grain of salt.


Further comments on Trbuhović-Gjurić’s report about Vladimir Varičak: Einstein corresponded with Vladimir Varičak on special relativity theory in letters written in the years 1909 through 1911. This includes the period from October 1909 through March 1911 when Einstein was living in Zurich, having obtained a post at Zurich University in 1909. The letters in question are published in Volume 10 of the Collected Papers. There is no mention of Varičak’s son Svetozar in these eight letters.[31] However, there is an additional short letter to Varičak senior published in Volume 10, dated by the editors of the Collected Papers as Zurich, 14 May 1913, in which Einstein wrote: “Ihr Bubi ist ein sehr eifriger Student und immer frohen Mutes.” (“Your little lad is a very keen student and always in good spirits.”)[32] This indicates that Varičak’s son lodged with the Einsteins sometime during the second period that Einstein lived in Zurich (August 1912 through March 1914). (From April 1911 the Einsteins lived in Prague, where Einstein held a post at Prague University, before returning to Zurich in August 1912 to take up a post at Zurich Polytechnic.) Now in that second period in Zurich, Einstein was working on what John Stachel describes as “the formidable mathematical problems of translating his ideas [extending special relativity to general relativity] into a specific physical theory”.[33] For this he turned for help to his mathematician friend Marcel Grossman, who found that the necessary non-Euclidean tensor analysis had been developed quite recently by a group of mathematicians. It is inconceivable that Marić could have been of any assistance in this esoteric field of mathematics.


If the story reported by Trbuhović-Gjurić is to be given any credence at all, it must relate to the apparently limited assistance Marić gave Einstein in the preparation of elementary lecture notes for his course at Zurich University in 1909-1910. It would also have to be the case that Svetozar Varičak lodged with the Einsteins for two separate periods, and that it is to the first period that the story pertains.


During the period cited by Trbuhović-Gjurić (and Krstić), Einstein corresponded on advanced topics in physics with, among others, the eminent physicists Perrin, Sommerfeld, Wien, and Lorentz,[34] as well as with his friend Michele Besso, and, given the complete absence of documented evidence of Marić’s maintaining direct involvement with such high level work, it is inconceivable that she would have knowledge of this material sufficient for her to assist Einstein in solving any mathematical problems relating to it (for which Einstein himself anyway had the mathematical tools).


Note: In a recent book Thomas Kida reports the research of two British psychologists who secretly recorded a discussion at a psychological society meeting.[35] Two weeks later the participants were asked to write down everything that they could remember. When specific points were recalled, nearly half were substantially incorrect: off-the-cuff remarks were transformed into full-blown discussions and comments were reported that were never actually made. This puts into perspective the statements reported by Trbuhović-Gjurić (and Krstić) which are based on third-hand hearsay reports from interested parties made decades after the alleged comments they purport to reproduce.


Sometimes, when Mileva, Albert and Friedrich Adler were working together and needed a quiet atmosphere, the Einstein’s entrusted their two boys to Katya Adler. (p. 95)


Einstein knew Friedrich Adler, son of the leader of the Austrian Social Democratic Party Victor Adler, from the time they became friends when they were fellow students at the Zurich Polytechnic. When the Einsteins moved to Zurich in 1909 they found that the Adler family had an apartment in the same building, and their children also became friends. Though Adler and Einstein certainly talked about physics together, and no doubt Marić was present during such discussions, there is no evidence that that Adler “worked together” with Einstein on his research. Indeed, in the following year Adler became editor-in-chief of the Social Democratic newspaper Volksrecht, indicating that his passion lay in politics, not physics. Krstić appears to have drawn Adler into his account in this way on the basis of looking for anything that is grist for his mill, namely, the contention that Marić was Einstein’s scientific collaborator. (The Einstein biographer Albrecht quotes from a letter written by Adler to his father in 1909 in which he writes in highly complementary terms about Einstein’s independence of mind in regard to his ideas on physics, but Adler makes no mention of Marić in this context.[36])


(3) Breakdown of the Marriage (pp. 96ff.)


Especially fruitful was [Einstein’s] collaboration, 1913, with Marcel Grossman on the problems of gravitation. Mileva was occupied with the children and the house most of the time. Her active engagement in physics was decreasing as she devoted herself to her sons. (p. 96)


For Krstić to write that, in 1913, Marić’s active engagement in physics was decreasing implies such an engagement earlier in the marriage for which there exists no documented evidence, and substantial reasons to believe did not occur. Not a single letter written to her close friend Helene Kaufler from the end of 1901 onwards, in which she occasionally mentions Einstein’s steady publishing of papers, so much as hints at her working on physics with him. Whenever she mentions such papers, they are always attributed solely to Einstein. Krstić’s claims about her collaboration with Einstein are, at least in the latter part of the period alluded to above, inconsistent with her writing to Kaufler of her neglect by Einstein being the fault of the “damned science”, and of his “tirelessly working on his problems”. She adds that “he lives only for them”, and that “we [she and the children] are unimportant to him and take second place”.[37] These words, and the fact that her letters to Kaufler throughout the years 1902 to 1912 dealt solely with personal matters with no mention whatever of her working on physics, indicates that Krstić’s claims of Marić’s collaborating with Einstein have no basis in fact.


In  August of 1913 [the Einstein family] spent a fortnight in the Alps with Marie Curie and her two daughters, Eve and Irene…Mileva and Marie Curie talked about science and about their children… (p. 97)


In none of the Einstein biographies that allude to this holiday that the Einsteins and Curies spent together is there any mention of Marić and Curie talking together on physics, and this statement of Krstić’s is evidently another example of his imaginative faculties being used tendentiously in the service of the thesis for which he is purporting to provide evidence.


(4) Did Mileva Contribute to Albert’s Three Most Significant Papers? (pp. 98ff.)


In 1952, R.S. Shankland (1963, 47) asked Albert Einstein about his famous 1905 papers and how it was that they all appeared at once. Einstein answered that he had worked on the idea of special relativity for more than seven years. That means that he began to work on special relativity at about the time Mileva returned to ETH from Heidelberg and they started to study together.


From the spring of 1898 until the fall of 1911, Mileva worked daily at the same table with Albert ‑ quietly, modestly, and never in public view. It is unlikely that her contribution to Albert Einstein's work will ever be determined precisely. However, if  we keep in mind that "she was as good at mathematics as Marcel Grossman," we may suppose that her part was not small (Michelmore 1962, 35).


There is no doubt that Albert discussed his ideas with Mileva (Krstić 1976). The paper about the photoelectric effect was the result of about five years of pondering. The citation for the Nobel Prize in physics, awarded to Albert Einstein in 1922, says "for your photoelectric law and your work in the field of theoretical physics." Einstein accepted the prize cheek and gave it to Mileva. (p. 98)


I shall break up this passage into individual statements:


That means that he began to work on special relativity at about the time Mileva returned to ETH from Heidelberg and they started to study together.


There are numerous other sources apart from Shankland (1963) which provide us with the knowledge that Einstein had pondered the question of relative motion while at the Zurich Polytechnic. (In fact, as cited above, he wrote an essay on the subject even before he attended the Polytechnic, so his interest goes back further still.) It has to be repeated that there is no evidence whatever from the surviving letters from Marić to Einstein during the period when they were students and immediately afterwards that she contributed any ideas of her own on relative motion, or indeed on any extra-curricular subject on which Einstein was engaged. All the passages about such ideas on physics, or work undertaken on extra-curricular physics occur in Einstein’s letters. None are to be found in Marić’s.


From the spring of 1898 until the fall of 1911, Mileva worked daily at the same table with Albert ‑ quietly, modestly, and never in public view.


This is a characteristically imaginative portrayal of events by Krstić. Leaving aside what would be an absurd hyperbole (“worked daily”) even in terms of his own thesis, for extended periods prior to their marriage Einstein and Marić were geographically separated. In 1901, for instance, for most of the year they lived in different towns, and even in different countries. Again, in 1902 they were apart for more than half the year. And the notion that during their marriage Marić worked with Einstein on his research in physics is, once again, a product of Krstić’s imagination in the service of the thesis he is propounding.


However, if we keep in mind that "she was as good at mathematics as Marcel Grossman," we may suppose that her [contribution to Einstein’s work] was not small (Michelmore 1962, 35).


This sentence provides a good illustration of the extremely poor quality of Krstić’s scholarship. He cites Peter Michelmore’s book on Einstein as evidence that Marić was as good at mathematics as Marcel Grossman, Einstein’s close friend from the time of their being fellow students at Zurich Polytechnic. However, Michelmore’s book is utterly unreliable for reference purposes, as I have amply demonstrated elsewhere,[38] and at times descends into imaginative fiction. The quotation provided above by Krstić is one such example. Grossman was part of the small group taking the course for a Zurich Polytechnic diploma along with Einstein and Marić, though unlike them, he majored in mathematics. A comparison of the intermediate and final diploma examinations shows that Marić received lower grades than Grossman in every single mathematics topic that they both took for these exams.[39] Moreover, whereas Marić failed her diploma exam on account of her very low grade in the mathematics component (theory of functions), Grossman went on to become a professor of mathematics at Zurich Polytechnic at the early age of 29. In 1912 Einstein turned to him for assistance with the highly abstruse mathematics he required for his prodigious work on general relativity theory. The quoted statement of Michelmore’s is nonsense, yet Krstić is happy to uncritically recycle it as another item that is grist for his mill.


There is no doubt that Albert discussed his ideas with Mileva (Krstić 1976). The paper about the photoelectric effect was the result of about five years of pondering. The citation for the Nobel Prize in physics, awarded to Albert Einstein in 1922, says "for your photoelectric law and your work in the field of theoretical physics." Einstein accepted the prize check and gave it to Mileva. (p. 98)


This paragraph purports to provide evidence that Marić had some input into Einstein’s revolutionary 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect, but actually does nothing of the kind. The first two sentences amount to little more than a non sequitur in the context of what Krstić is purporting to demonstrate. First, there not one iota of evidence that Einstein discussed the photoelectric effect with Marić beyond his reporting in a letter that he had just read Lenard’s first publication on the subject.[40] Second, this report of Einstein’s is about a paper presenting Lenard’s first quantitative results; Lenard’s qualitative results which Einstein explained in 1905 in terms of light quanta were not published until 1902, so Einstein could not have been pondering about the revolutionary part of his 1905 paper for more than three years at the very outside.


On the issue of the Nobel Prize money, the correspondence between Einstein and Marić demonstrates that in 1918 Einstein proposed  that the anticipated Prize would be ceded to Marić (the capital was to be kept in safe keeping for the children and she would have full rights to the disposal of the interest) in order to overcome her longstanding reluctance to a divorce. The divorce agreement confirms that these were the terms on which they settled with respect to the anticipated Prize money.[41] Krstić’s clear insinuation quoted above that Einstein’s providing Marić with the Nobel Prize money is evidence that he was acknowledging that she had contributed to his 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect is the sheerest nonsense.




Krstić has adduced no reliable evidence for his thesis that Mileva Marić made contributions to Einstein’s work in physics. His thesis relies heavily on third-hand statement from interested parties obtained decades after the events on which they purport to provide information, and is essentially based on the wishful beliefs of a proud Serb about the purported achievements of a fellow-Serb who never remotely made any such claims for herself, not even to her closest friend Helene Kaufler.





1. Renn & Schulmann (1992), p. xxxi.

2. Seelig, C. (ed.) (1956), p. 10.

3. Popović, M. (2003), p. 72; Albert Einstein Collected Papers, Volume 1, ed. Stachel et al, 1987, pp. 274-275.

4. Brian, D. (1996), pp. 29, 444n.

5. Renn & Schulmann (1992), p. 45.

6. Renn & Schulmann (1992), pp. 50, 73; Folsing, A. (1997), pp. 87, 90.

7. Popović, M. (2003), p. 72.

8. Solovine, M. (1987), pp.6-14.

9. Solovine, M. (1987), p. 13.

10. Trbuhović-Gjurić, D. (1988), pp. 75-76; (1991), pp. 106-107.

11. My translation – A.E.

12. Collected Papers, Volume 1 (Eng. trans.), Beck & Havas, 1987, pp. 4-6.

13. Renn & Schulmann, p. 8.

14. Popović, M. (2003), pp. 75, 82, 89, 95, 106, 112, 113, 123, 127, 129, 134, 135, 138, 140, 147, 152, 158, 160, 162, 163.

15. Collected Papers, Volume 3, ed. Klein et al., 1993, p. 125.

16. See also under the subheading “More direct evidence (allegedly)” in

17. Renn & Schulmann, p. 88.

18. Collected Papers Volume 3 (English trans.), Beck & Howard, 1993, pp. 20-21.

19. Stachel, J. (2002), pp. 215-222.

20. Popović, M. (2003), pp. 82-89.

21. Collected Papers, Volume 5, eds. M. J. Klein et al., 1993, pp. 51-55.

22. Collected Papers Volume 5, (English trans.), documents 48, 54, 56, 69, 86, 95, 99, 104, 108, 122, 124, 134, 150, 177, 190, 198, 202, 332.

23. Seelig, C. (1956), p. 60.

24. Popović, M. (2003), p. 105.

25. Trbuhović-Gjurić, D. (1988), p. 87; (1991), p. 120.

26. Seeć.htm

27. Collected Papers, Volume 1,  Stachel et al (eds), 1987, p. 247.

28. Collected Papers, Volume 3 (English trans.) ed. Klein et al., 1993, p. 125.

29. Trubović-Gjurić, D. (1991), p. 240.

30. See

31. Collected Papers, Volume 10, ed. D. K. Buchwald et al, 2006, pp. 3-8.

32. Collected Papers, Volume 10, ed. D. K. Buchwald et al, 2006, p. 21.

33. Stachel, J. (2002), p. 230.

34. Collected Papers, Volume 5, ed. M J. Klein et al, 1993, documents 179, 186, 197, 211, 226, 244, 250.

35. Kida. T. (2006), p. 203.

36. Fölsing, A. (1997), pp. 258-259.

37. Popović M. (2003), pp. 102, 108.

38. See

39. Collected Papers, Volume  1 (Eng. trans.), Beck & Havas, 1987, pp. 125, 140; Trbuhović-Gjurić, D. (1991), p. 70.

40. Renn & Schulmann (1992), p. 54.

41. Collected Papers, Volume 8 (English trans.), Hentschel & Hentschel,  doc. 449, p. 456; doc. 562, p. 584.





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