Broken Colors

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EINSTEIN’S DAUGHTER: AN EXCERPT

(From the Author’s Note) “1968. Springtime, New York, I wonder if Albert Einstein had a daughter?” I had written in my notebook. “If he did, was she a genius, too? And why haven’t I read about her? Could there be an unknown Einstein wandering about?” Eventually, the book was placed on a shelf in my studio and forgotten.

Almost twenty years later, in May 1987, I read an article in The New York Times about the discovery of the love letters between Albert and Mileva. In these letters it was disclosed for the first time that they indeed had a daughter, born in 1902, whom they named Lieserl. But for some reason she had not been written into the Einstein story. Her existence had somehow vanished into history.

It intrigued me to think that hidden deep in the byzantine labyrinth of the Balkans lurked the mystery of Einstein’s missing child whose fate remained unsolved. Impetuously, naïvely, I decided that it was time to find her.

I thought I knew Albert. His history is epic. But I did not know Mileva. Her history lies in his shadow. However, to find the child, I knew that I had to know Mileva. And to know Mileva, I had to understand the cultural heart of Serbia.

My research took me on extensive trips to Berkeley, Boston, London, Zurich, Bern, Budapest, Berlin, and three times to Serbia – twice while the country was at war, once when there was promise in the air.

I soon understood that Serbian society is private and intensely loyal. It takes months to cultivate friendships, sometimes years to earn the right to call someone by a first name. One must demonstrate absolute loyalty to be taken into another’s confidence. From the beginning, I sought to respect the responsibility that is conferred when a truth is shared. I frequently heard, dok mi kuca u grudima dŭsa – “while my sould beats in my body, I will protect my family’s honor.”