Saturday, March 20, 2010

Einsteins' first daughter

The kidnapping of a young girl hits us like a blow to the head. One thinks of Elizabeth Smart, the Mormon kid abducted at age 14 and found nine months later. One thinks of all too many youngsters taken away, most not found alive. But this evening I'm thinking of another young girl, who simply has disappeared out of history itself.

I'm thinking of a child named Lieserl. Disappeared to us, even though she was none other than the first daughter of Albert Einstein.

Lieserl no doubt wasn't kidnapped. She must have been adopted, somewhere. But, to us, no less totally gone.

Einstein had fallen in love with Mileva Meric, a beautiful but poor serb who had overcome great odds to earn degrees not only in medicine but in physics. Einstein's parents rejected the idea of marriage, but in 1903, a year after Lieserl was born in January, 1902, they married anyway.

But why didn't the couple bring their daughter to live with them? And what happened to her?

One suspects Lieserl must have been a very smart person. But, despite the research of many historians and biographers, any and all details of her life remain unknown. Lieserl is one of those mysteries that both fascinate us, and make us sad.

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