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Tag: Albert Einstein

Robert Einstein: the engineer cousin of Albert Einstein in Italy (Part 4)

The tragic story of the Einstein’s Family whitin the complex situation of chaos from 8th September 1943 to August 3rd 1944


Returning a little back, it was by now 1933 and Albert Einstein decided to remain in the United States. After 1940 he never came back to Europe. Following the anti-semitic laws in Italy introduced by Benito Mussolini in 1938, Albert invited his sister Maja Einstein to leave Italy and emigrate to the United States in 1939. It seems that Maja’s husband Paul Winteler at that point had health trouble and did not get permission to go to the United States. Winteler remained in Switzerland, perhaps thinking they would be together again later, but it didn’t happen, and Paul and Maja never met again.

But back to who was in Italy in 1943 and 1944. Albert Einstein was constantly searching for news about his dear cousin Robert: Major U.S. Milton Wexler had the assignment to report news of Robert Einstein to Albert. Meanwhile, seniorGermans officers of the Wehrmachtseconded from Florence troops had occupied Robert Einstein’s Villa del Focardo, making it their headquarters. According to witnesses the family seemed to coexist for a time with these officers in a civilized manner without physical violence to the family members. Were these Germans not yet aware that Robert was a cousin of Albert Einstein and a jew? Or perhaps they turned a blind eye for a while, still awaiting orders?

After the Announcement on 8th September 1943 of the Armistice in Italy, the situation worsened and it became increasingly difficult by 1944 for the local population. Italy was occuped from Allies, Germans, SS (Schutzstaffelthe) and it was civil war between Italian partisans and fascists.

Bombing Florence

Bombing Florence

Allied planes, at first concerned with preserving the extraordinary heritage of Florence and thus avoiding it, now began bombing the city. And so we come to the height of summer, 3rd August 1944.




The Germans who wanted – unnecessarily and just to have little time more – to delay the arrival of the Allies, blew up all the bridges of Florence except the Ponte vecchio.




It was another incredible shock for the population. And it was the same date of the massacre of our story.



Firenze 1944

Florence American Cemetery and Memorial





Robert Einstein: the engineer cousin of Albert Einstein in Italy (Part 3)

The Einstein’s in Tuscany and Albert Einstein in Via degli Strozzi at Sesto Fiorentino


It has been quite incredible to discover Robert Einstein’s story and, through this research, learn even more about Albert Einstein. I knew that he had come to Italy several times since he was teenager. Indeed I remembered, in some remote and blurred way, about a photo of Albert Einstein with his violin, in a room of a villa or perhaps a farmhouse in Tuscany (which I was sure was a house of some relatives or close friends, in my memory of many years ago), but it has been really incredible to discover more precisely that Albert Einstein came here once, and by here I mean exactly here, where I am writing this story. Indeed,

the sister of Albert […] in the early 1920s came to live near Florence, exactly in Via degli Strozzi in Sesto Fiorentino,

next to the Villa Solaria Park. So, just like his cousin Robert, Albert’s dear sister Maja also came back to Italy and lived in Tuscany, where she, her husband Paul Winteler and Robert Einstein, met with Italian and international artists and intellectuals.

Staude (standing), Maja Einstein Winteler, Georg Staude, Paul Winteler at Sesto Fiorentino

Staude (standing), Maja Einstein, Georg Staude and Paul Winteler at Sesto Fiorentino



Well, what could happen to a person like me discovering this? Of course, I imagined Albert Einstein walking here, just like now.

the road where lived Maja Einstein in Tuscany

Via degli Strozzi at Sesto Fiorentino


I pictured him catching up with Maja Einstein in Via degli Strozzi and then again stepping on the soil of this narrow path and others nearby, as he wandered Sesto Fiorentino.



Albert came to visit Maja several times, before moving permanently to the United States, knowing of the risk of the German nuclear weapon project. He also maybe sensed that before long, Hitler and the Nazis later might find his loved ones stayed in Europe, putting all their lives at risk.


The Einstein–Szilárd letter (1939)

The Einstein–Szilárd letter (1939) to the United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt


The Franklin D. Roosevelt letter to Albert Einstein

The Franklin D. Roosevelt letter to Albert Einstein



There are diverse opinions about this that I’m going to telling you of Robert Einstein’s family. Many tell us there is a strong connection with an order by Hitler, because Albert Einstein was Jewish and against the Nazis. Others it seems are suggesting that we have to read Robert’s case in the complex situation of the chaos after the Italian 8th September 1943, when the Allies were close to liberating the Italian people from the Italian Fascist regime and the Germans.

Woman in Agrigento. Photo by Robert Capa

Woman in Agrigento, photo by Robert Capa

The Germans who obviously regarded the Italians as traitors, were massacring Italian civilians. Italian military personnel, now lost, abandoned to fate and suddenly without clear orders from superiors, when captured by the Germans were killed or being sent to concentration camps. The specific event, hard to reconstruct by historical data sure, it happened in this complex context that I have represented.

As a matter of fact, this is the tragic story of Robert Einstein and his family.





Robert Einstein: the engineer cousin of Albert Einstein in Italy (Part 2)

Robert Einstein between Germany and Italy, then in different places of Italy and finally at Rignano sull’Arno, Tuscany


Unfortunatly, there are no much news on the Internet about Robert Einstein in general (note 1), and less yet in regard the time he lived in North Italy. An article tells us that while Albert Einstein couldn’t remain in Italy to study, “his cousin” was studying in Pavia.

Albert Einstein in 1893

Albert Einstein in 1893


Albert also came often the years his family lived in Pavia and Milan since 1894, spending about three months a year in Italy, doing his research and debating much on it with his friend Michele Besso. After Hermann’s death (1902), Pauline and Maja Einstein went to live in Switzerland, while Jacob and Robert lived in Milan and they were always in contact by letters with the other Einsteins.

After the Jacob death, it is also quite likely just to deduce that Robert Einstein some times went back to Germany for periods and came back to Italy, before finally staying in Italy. Indeed, he married a Waldesian Italian woman, Cesarina Mazzetti (Nina) in Rome in 1913, while their first daughter Luce Einstein was born in Munich, Germany, in 1917.

At about the mid of the 1920s we meet again Robert Einstein in Rome, where also his second daughter Annamaria Einstein was born, in 1926, and in the countryside of Monte Malbe, near Perugia.

Cesarina Mazzetti and Robert Einstein

Cesarina Mazzetti and Robert Einstein



Robert’s wife Cesarina Mazzetti had a brother in Rome, who was married with two daughters too. After the parents died, the two girls, Paola and Lorenza, were adopted by the Einstein-Mazzettis and went to live with them.

Villa del Focardo at Troghi, Rignano sull'Arno

Villa del Focardo at Troghi, Rignano sull’Arno

At about the mid of the 1930s the family moved to Florence, at Corso dei Tintori, and also bought in the tuscan countryside the Villa del Focardo with a farm, fields and vineyards. The villa was about 20 kilometres away from Florence, in Rignano sull’Arno area, at the village of Troghi.




Note 1: unfortunatly the sources are scarse and often not sure, for example you could find an article telling us that Robert Einstein was living in a place a year, while an other article tells us that at the same year he was living in an other place.



Robert Einstein: the engineer cousin of Albert Einstein in Italy (Part 1)

Robert and Albert’s Fathers in Italy


Robert Einstein (Munich, 1884), an engineer and Albert Einstein’s cousin, as well as some other Einstein relatives, had a long connection with Italy.

Hermann Einstein, Albert’s father, a German entrepreneur and electricity industry pioneer, with Jacob Einstein, also an engineer and Robert’s father, in 1894 moved their activities to Pavia.


Hermann Einstein


Pauline Einstein


Maria (Maja) and Albert Einstein, c. 1893











The same year Albert’s mother and sister, Pauline Einstein and Maria (Maja) Einstein, moved to Milan with Hermann and then to Pavia, while Albert stayed in Munich to study and would join the family later for a period.



Via Ugo Foscolo 11. The house of the Einstein Family lived in Pavia


The Einstein’s factory in Italy, the Officine Elettrotecniche Nazionali Einstein-Garrone, closed after two years.


The Officine Elettromeccaniche Einstein-Garrone in Pavia


Hermann re-started a new activity still in Italy, but then died in Milan in 1902. He was buried in the Monumental Cemetery of Milan, at The Edicola Palanti (Civico Mausoleo Palanti) dedicated to honorable citizens of Milan.


Viale Partigiani 5, Pavia. The location of Officine Elettrotecniche Einstein-Garrone


Later, Jacob also died in Milan, in 1912, but he was buried in Austria.





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