Robert Einstein: the engineer cousin of Albert Einstein in Italy (Part 5)

by Stefania Bufano

The Massacre of the Einstein’s Family


In the opinion of some it seems that at some point there was news, or talk in the street or even just the feeling that Hitler had ordered the hunting of Einstein’s relatives in Italy. The situation was frenzied. The Germans coming from Florence raided the countryside. Some witnesses say that people there were panicked, crying, “they will kill all of us! They will kill all of us!”, running and escaping as best they could. In this absolute chaos for the local population, it seems that friends or partisans, at some point, suggested to Robert Einstein that he must leave the Villa del Focardo. At last, he decided to escape and went into hiding in the countryside, not too far away from the villa. 

Surely, Robert must have been worried for his family, but was probably convinced that nothing would happen to his daughters and wife, since they weren’t Jewish. Witnesses say that to stay at the villa was a choice by Robert’s wife, Cesarina Mazzetti, who didn’t want to run away, saying:

“What could happen to us and why? We don’t have to run away. Nothing will happen to us”.

Then, the tragedy. Nowadays sadly known as the Eccidio della Famiglia Einstein-Mazzetti: the Massacre of the Einstein’s Family.




Not finding Robert Einstein inside the villa, a division of the Wehrmacht (note 2) ordered Robert’s wife and daughters Luce and Annamaria to call out “Robert, Robert” or “papà, papà”, to see if he would come out. Some reports that the three women were taken outside into a courtyard, other reports to a room in the villa, leaving all others who were there alive. And here is what happened: a shot, then a stop for a moment, a second shot, then a stop for another moment, a third shot of the machine gun, then the infinite silence. So died Cesarina Mazzetti (Nina), wife of Robert Einstein, age 56, Luce Einstein, 27, and Annamaria Einstein (Cicì), age 18.

The Germans killed the three without mercy and then set fire to the villa. Robert knew from somebody – or saw the fire at the villa – and must have realized that his life was destroyed. The day after he was a completely desperate man. We can just imagine what he felt. He probably felt guilty having run away the day before, leaving his family at home without any protection, thinking that the risk was only for him, that the Germans were hunting just him. It was impossible for me not to imagine Robert Einstein thinking hundreds, thousands of times:

“If I was there they would have killed just me and would have left my dear daughters and my wife alive”.

It seems that the Germans left their signature of death and destruction with a horrible note, discovered on the 4th of August:

We executed the components of Einstein’s family, guilty of treason and Jews. (Abbiamo giustiziato i componenti della famiglia Einstein, rei di tradimento e giudei).