“It is an irony of fate that I myself have been the recipient of excessive admiration
and reverence from my fellow-beings, through no fault and no merit of my own.”

Albert Einstein, ca. 1930


1879Albert Einstein is born as the first child of the Jewish couple Hermann and Pauline Einstein, nee Koch in Ulm on March 14 at 11.30 am.
1880In June the family moves to Munich where Hermann Einstein and his brother found the electro technical company Einstein & Cie.
1881Albert’s sister Maria – called Maja – is born in Munich on November 18.
1884Albert is given private lessons as preparation for school. His father shows him a compass which fascinates him very much (the first “wonder”).
1885Albert attends Petersschule, a catholic elementary school in Munich from October 1. He is a good pupil. At home he is given lessons in Jewish religion. Albert starts to learn the violin.
1888He attends Luitpold-Gymnasium (grammar school) in Munich from October 1.
1889Max Talmud (later: Talmey), a Jewish medical student, becomes in the following years the tutor of young Albert. Together they read and discuss scientific and philosophic works.
1891At the age of 12 Albert gets to know the “holy geometry book”, whose content “impresses him very much” (the second “wonder”). With the help of a teacher and a Rabbi, Albert prepares to become a “Bar-Mizwa” – a full member of the Jewish community.
1892However, he does not go to his “Bar-Mizwa” because he starts to become a freethinker.
1894Due to reasons at work Hermann Einstein, his wife and his daughter move to Italy – first to Milan, then to Pavia and finally back to Milan again. Albert stays with relatives in Munich to finish school. He leaves Luitpold-Gymnasium without a degree in December and follows his family to Milan.
1895Albert who does not pass the entrance examination for the Polytechnic (later called Swiss Technical College, ETH) in Zurich at the beginning of October, attends the trade department of the school in Aarau in late October to make up for the school leaving examination (Matura). In Aarau he lives with the family of one of his teachers, Jost Winteler. He writes his first scientific work, however, it is not published.
1896At the age of 17 Albert Einstein gives up the Wurttemberg and thus the German citizenship with the approval of his father. For the following 5 years he is stateless. At the beginning of October he passes his Matura (general qualification for university entrance) in Aarau and begins to study at the Polytechnic in Zurich in the same month. His aim is to achieve the certificate of a subject teacher for mathematics and physics. His fellow students are among others Mileva Maric and Marcel Grossmann.
1897Einstein meets Michele Besso in Zurich. They stay friends for all their life.
1898In October Albert successfully passes his intermediate testing for the diploma.
1899In Zurich Einstein files the application for the Swiss citizenship.
1900Albert Einstein finishes his studies at the ETH Zurich with the subject teacher diploma for mathematics and physics. Subsequently he applies, however, without success for the job of an assistant at the Polytechnic and at various universities. In December he hands in his first scientific work to the “Annalen der Physik” (Annals of Physics).
1901In February Einstein is granted the Swiss citizenship. His first scientific work is published in the “Annalen der Physik” in March. He continuously applies for a job as assistant, however, without any success. From May to July he works temporarily as teacher in Winterthur and from September for a private school in Schaffhausen. He starts working on his dissertation which he hands in at the University in Zurich in November. In December he applies for a job at the Swiss Patent Office in Bern. His former fellow student, Marcel Grossmann, had helped him find this job.
1902Lieserl, the illegitimate daughter of Albert Einstein and Mileva Maric, his former fellow student, is born in Hungary in January. Einstein is in Bern at this time. He withdraws his dissertation. To make for a living he advertises in newspapers to give private lessons. From June 23 he is a third-class technical expert on probation at the Patent Office in Bern. In October Hermann Einstein dies in Milan.
1903Albert Einstein marries Mileva Maric on January 6 – against the will of both families. In spring he founds the “Akademie Olympia” in Bern together with Maurice Solovine and Conrad Habicht. On May 2 he becomes member of the Naturforschende Gesellschaft of Bern. In autumn Lieserl is said to be put up for adoption in Hungary.
1904Einstein’s first son Hans Albert is born in Bern on May 14. Einstein is given a fix job at the Patent Office.
1905Einstein’s “annus mirabilis”. He publishes four groundbreaking works in the “Annalen der Physik”, which revolutionize the basics of physics around 1900. One of his works, Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper (“On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”), contains the special theory of relativity. In another work he deduces the famous formula E = mc2.Einstein-handwriting
In April Einstein hands in his work Eine neue Bestimmung der Moleküldimensionen (A New Determination of Molecular Dimensions) as dissertation at the University of Zurich and it is accepted at the end of July.
1906In the middle of January Einstein is awarded a doctorate by the University of Zurich and in April he is promoted to be a second-class technical expert at the Patent Office.
1907Einstein starts to think about the general theory of relativity and discovers the principle of equivalence of mass and energy for continuously accelerated systems. His application for the doctorate is rejected by the University of Bern as his doctorate paper is not sufficient.
1908Through handing in a new dissertation, Einstein is awarded the doctorate at the University of Bern and becomes a private college lecturer. At the end of the year he holds his first lecture.
1909In July Einstein is awarded his first honorary doctor at the University of Geneva; many more are to follow. He stops working at the Patent Office and in October starts his work as associate professor for theoretical physics at the University of Zurich. On December 2 he becomes member of the Physikalische Gesellschaft Zurich.
1910Einstein receives a call to the German University in Prague. His second son Eduard, called Tete, is born in Zurich on July 28. On November 14 he becomes member of the Naturforschende Gesellschaft of Zurich.
1911Einstein becomes full professor at the German University in Prague. At the end of October he takes part in the first Solvay Congress in Brussels. He calculates the deflection of the light in the gravitational field of the sun and in this process recognizes the experimental possibility to observe this process during a total solar eclipse.
1912He begins a love affair with his divorced cousin Elsa Löwenthal who lives in Berlin. He follows a call as full professor for theoretical physics to the ETH, his Alma mater and returns to Zurich in August. Start of the cooperation with Marcel Grossmann, professor for mathematics at the ETH, about the basics of the general theory of relativity.
1913Einstein is nominated member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Max Planck and Walther Nernst travel to Zurich to win Einstein for Berlin. He is offered the membership in the Prussian Academy of Sciences as well as a professorship at the University of Berlin without the need to teach and the management of the still to be founded Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics. On November 12 Einstein’s membership in the Academy is approved of by Wilhelm II, German Emperor and King of Prussia, and Einstein accepts the offer of the “Berliners” on December 7.
1914At the beginning of April Einstein arrives in Berlin, Mileva and the two sons Hans Albert and Eduard arrive one month later. Einstein holds his inaugural address at the Prussian Academy of Sciences on July 2. Albert Einstein and Mileva separate. In July she goes back to Zurich with the two sons. On August 1 World War I begins. Einstein begins to deal intensively with politics. He becomes member of the pacifist Bund Neues Vaterland, and signs the “Manifest an die Europäer” (Manifesto to the Europeans) designed by Georg Nicolai.
1915With J. W. de Haas Einstein begins to make experimental tests to the gyromagnetic effect (Einstein-de Haas-effect). In November he finishes his work on the general theory of relativity and presents it in a 4-part speech at the Prussian Academy of Sciences. On December 18 he is elected as a corresponding member of the Royal Society of Göttingen.
1916The article Die Grundlage der allgemeinen Relativitätstheorie (The Formal Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity) is published in the Annalen der Physik on March 20 he becomes head of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (German Physical Society) as successor to Max Planck on May 5. In December he finishes his work on his most famous book Über die spezielle und die allgemeine Relativitätstheorie, gemeinverständlich (On the Special and General Theory of Relativity, A Popular Account). He receives a call to the Kuratorium der Phyikalisch-Technischen Reichsanstalt (Board of Trustees of the Physical-Technical Institute of the German Reich). Among other things he works on the topic of gravitational waves and again on the topic of quantum theory.
1917At the beginning of the years Einstein suffers from various illnesses (among other things from a liver disease and a stomach ulcer). His cousin Elsa takes care of him. It will last several years until he recovers completely. He writes a work on cosmology with the cosmologic term which shall guarantee a limited universe. He will refer to this cosmologic term later as his “biggest idiocy”. He takes over the management of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics on October 1.
1918In August Einstein rejects a joint offer from the Swiss Polytechnic and the University of Zurich though the conditions are very good. The German Reich surrenders on November 9 and the Republic is proclaimed. Einstein welcomes these events.
1919The marriage of Albert Einstein and Mileva Maric is divorced on February 14. Discussions with Kurt Blumenfeld about Zionism. The solar eclipse which was observed by the astronomer Arthur Stanley Eddington on May 29 confirms Einstein’s forecast about the deflection of light in the gravitational field of the sun which he had postulated in his general theory of relativity. Einstein becomes famous over night. The myth Albert Einstein is born. Einstein marries his cousin Elsa Löwenthal on June 2. She brings with her the two daughters from her first marriage –  Ilse and Margot. Einstein is awarded his only German honorary doctor from the University of Rostock on November 12.
1920In February Einstein’s mother Pauline dies after severe illness in Berlin. On April 9 he becomes foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. The Danish physician Niels Bohr visits Einstein in Berlin. It is their first meeting. On May 20 he becomes foreign member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences in Amsterdam. Anti-Semitic comments against the theory of relativity and Einstein increase. In June Einstein travels to Norway and Denmark to hold speeches. Einstein takes part in a public presentation in the Berlin Philharmonics against the theory of relativity on August 24. Three days later he criticizes this presentation harshly in the Berliner Tageblatt (newspaper). He thinks about leaving Germany. At the scientists’ meeting in Bad Nauheim on September 23 a hot and controversial discussion with the physicist Philipp Lenard occurs. Lenard who had received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1905 is one of the main objectors of the theory of relativity in Germany. Einstein holds his inaugural address as guest professor at the University of Leiden on October 27.
1921From April 2 to May 30 Einstein and Chaim Weizmann visit the USA. It is Einstein’s first visit to the USA. The main reason for this journey is to collect money for the still to be founded Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Einstein holds four speeches at the University of Princeton about the theory of relativity which are later published as book. On Monday, May 9 he is also awarded his honorary doctor there. More lectures and honours in the USA are to follow. He is welcomed by President Warren G. Harding in the White House in Washington. During his return journey to Germany he visits Great Britain where he holds lectures in Manchester and London. He is awarded the honorary doctorate (Dr. h. c.) of science by the University of Manchester on June 9. On September 29 he becomes foreign member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in Rom.
1922In January Einstein holds speeches in Prague and Vienna. Also in January he hands in his first work to the Academy of Science about the unified field theory. He visits France from the end of March to the middle of April. With this journey he contributes to the normalisation of the German-French relationship. Next to speeches at the Collége de France he also visits some battlefields of World War I. At the end of April he becomes member of the Völkerbundkommission für Intellektuelle Zusammenarbeit (Commission for Intellectual Cooperation). After the assassination of the German Foreign Secretary Walther Rathenau on June 24 Einstein cancels all public speeches and presentations. He writes a remarkable obituary for Rathenau. As guest of a newspaper house Einstein and his wife Elsa begin a longer journey to Japan on October 8. On their journey they visit among other cities Colombo, Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Einstein is awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for the year 1921 on November 9. He receives the prize not for his theory of relativity but for his discovery of the Law of the Photoelectric Effect. Einstein officially learns of this honour during his Japan journey. At the awarding ceremony of the Nobel Prize on December 10, Einstein is represented by the German ambassador to Sweden.
1923On the return journey from Japan Einstein visits Palestine in February. He becomes the first honorary citizen of Tel Aviv. On his journey back home he visits Spain. On March 4 he becomes corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical, and Natural Sciences in Madrid. Four days later he is awarded the honorary doctorate (Dr. h. c.) of science by the University of Madrid (8. March). As he recognizes the ineffectiveness of the Commission for Intellectual Cooperation he resigns from it. In June he supports the association Freunde des Neuen Rußland (Friends of New Russia) in its foundation and becomes member in the board. On June 7, Albert Einstein was admitted to the order “Pour le mérite“. In July he travels to Sweden and Denmark. He holds his Nobel Speech in Gothenburg in presence of the king on July 11. In December Einstein discusses his work: Möglichkeiten zur Lösung des Quantenproblems (A Possible Solution for the Quantum Problem) in the Academy of Sciences. On December 13, Einstein is awarded the “Genootschaps Medal” in the auditorium of the Amsterdam University.
1924As youngest member Einstein is admitted to the Orden Pour le Mérite on June 7. In June he once again joins the Commission for Intellectual Cooperation. Together with the Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose he discovers the Bose-Einstein-Condensation. In December the Einstein Tower is finished in Potsdam on the Telegraphenberg and starts working. Einstein is appointed for life as head of the Board of Trustees of the Einstein Institute.
1925Einstein formulates the Bose-Einstein-Statistics and publishes the Bose-Einstein-Condensation at the end of the year. From April to June he travels through South America – Argentine, Brazil and Uruguay. Together with Gandhi and other important people he signs a manifesto against compulsory military service. He also becomes a member of the administrative council of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is awarded the Copley Medal of the Royal Society in London on November 30.
1926He is awarded the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in London on February 12. The quantum mechanics is formulated among others by Werner Heisenberg, Max Born and Erwin Schrödinger. Einstein expresses his discomfort.
1927On February 19 he is elected as a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. At the fifth Solvay Congress in Brussels in October: beginning of an intensive discussion between Einstein and Niels Bohr about the basics of quantum mechanics.
1928Due to overexertion Einstein now suffers from a heart illness. He has to strictly stay in bed for several months. It lasts almost one full year until he recovers. Helen Dukas begins to work for Albert Einstein on April 13. At the beginning only a secretary, she also his housekeeper after the death of Elsa Einstein.
1929In March Einstein celebrates his 50th birthday. He lets build a house of wood in Caputh near Potsdam in which he lives during the summer months until his emigration in December 1932. During his stay at the Solvay Congress in Brussels he visits the Royal Family. A friendship begins and also a lifelong correspondence with his “Beloved Queen”. He is awarded the Max Planck medal by his promoter Max Planck on June 28. He is awarded the honorary doctorate (Dr. h. c.) of science by the University of Paris on November 9.
1930Einstein’s first grandson, Bernhard Caesar, the son of Hans Albert and Frieda Einstein is born. In May Einstein signs a manifesto demanding the world’s disarmament. He develops an intensive interest in pacifism. On November 7 he is awarded the honorary Doctor of Science from the ETH Zurich. Einstein’s second visit to the USA. The journey begins in December and ends in March of the following year. He visits for example New York and Cuba. The main reason for his journey is his research stay at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) in Pasadena.
1931He returns from his visit to the USA in March. Within his research work he eliminates the Cosmological Term (1917). One month later he visits Christ Church College in Oxford, England for some weeks. During his stay there he is awarded the honorary doctorate (Dr. h. c.) of science by the University of Oxford (May 23). He spends the summer months in his summer house in Caputh. In December he once again travels to the USA. Most of the time he can be found at the CalTech in Pasadena. It is his third visit to the USA.
1932At the beginning of March he is back from his journey to the USA. He follows the call of the still to be founded Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He plans to spend half the year in Berlin and half the year in Princeton. On March 17 he becomes member of the Imperial German Academy of Natural Scientists in Halle, Leopoldina. Inspired by the Commission for Intellectual Cooperation he begins to write with the Austrian physician and psychologist Sigmund Freud about the question: Why war? This conversation is published in 1933. In the autumn, he speaks his credo for a record. In December he travels to CalTech in Pasadena, USA again. He plans to go back to Germany in March 1933. However, the political power shift and thus Nazi Germany cause him to never set foot on German ground again.
1933On January 30 Adolf Hitler seizes power in Germany; national socialist power seizure. Einstein declares before his return journey to Europe on March 10 that he will not return to Germany and on March 28 he declares his leaving the Prussian Academy of Sciences. He cuts all contacts to German institutions with which he had worked. Thus he renounces for example the membership in the Orden Pour le Mérite. He stays in Belgium, Switzerland and Great Britain. In June he holds the Spencer speech in Oxford. He emigrates to the USA. He comes to New York with his wife Elsa, his secretary Helen Dukas and his assistant Walther Mayer on October 17 and visits his newly adopted home town Princeton, New Jersey. He begins to work for the Institute for Advanced Study.
1934Einstein’s step daughter Ilse Kayser-Einstein dies in Paris, the step daughter Margot moves to Princeton. A collection of not-scientific works of Einstein is published, bearing the title Mein Weltbild (The World As I See It). He is awarded the honorary doctorate (Doctor of Humane Letters, honaris causa) of science by the Yeshiva College in New York, 8. October.
1935The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen-Paradoxon is published in May. Einstein receives the Franklin Medal in Philadelphia on May 15. He is awarded the honorary Doctor of Science from the Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on June 20. Einstein and his wife Elsa move in the new house in Princeton in Mercer Street 112 in September. His step daughter Margot and his secretary Helen Dukas live with them.
1936Einstein’s friend Marcel Grossmann dies on September 7 and Elsa Einstein dies after long illness in their house on December 20.
1938Together with Leopold Infeld he publishes the book The Evolution of Physics.
1939Einstein signs a letter to the American president Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 2 to tell him about the possible danger of an atomic bomb. Through the German attack on Poland World War II begins on September 1. Einstein’s sister Maja moves to her brother’s place in Princeton.
1940Einstein swears the oath on the American constitution on October 1, 1940 and thus becomes an American citizen. However, he keeps his Swiss citizenship.
1941In America the “Manhattan Project” begins in November. Its function is to develop an atomic bomb. Einstein is regarded as safety risk and is not allowed to take part in the project. Japan attacks Pearl Harbour, the American Navy Centre on December 7. The USA enter the war.
1943The US Navy employs Einstein as adviser for highly explosive materials.
1944The copy of Einstein’s work Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper (On the Electrodynamics of Moved Bodies) from the year 1905 is auctioned in Kansas City in February for six million dollars in favour of the Book and Author War Bond Committee. Einstein is officially given emeritus status by the faculty of the Institute for Advanced Study, however, he keeps a working room in the institute until his death.
1945Einstein is shocked and deeply touched by the news of the two atomic bomb droppings over Hiroshima on August 6 and Nagasaki on August 9. The second World War is over. At a Nobel memory dinner on December 10 in New York he holds his famous speech The war is won, but the peace is not.
1946In an open letter to the United Nations Einstein promotes among other things the formation of a world government. He becomes head of the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, whose aim it is to control armament and to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Einstein’s sister Maja suffers a stroke.
1947Einstein intensifies his activities for armament control and a world government.
1948Einstein’s first wife, Mileva Maric, dies in Zurich on August 4. In December Einstein is diagnosed a big aorta aneurysm. He gets surgery immediately.
1949Einstein leaves hospital in January. He publishes his work Autobiographic Notes which he wrote in 1946. It is a review of his scientific career.
1950Einstein signs his last will on March 18. Dr. Otto Nathan and Einstein’s secretary Helen Dukas are made his administrators. His written heritage goes to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He publishes Out of My Later Years, a collection of his non-scientific essays and speeches of the last twenty years.
1951Maja, Einstein’s sister, dies in Princeton on June 25.
1952After the death of Chaim Weizmann, Einstein is offered the presidency over Israel. However, he rejects.
1954Einstein publicly supports J. R. Oppenheimer because of the accusations of the US government due to his “national reliability”. Einstein suffers from haemolytic anaemia. Einstein’s friend Michele Besso dies in Geneva on March 15. In April Einstein signs a letter to Bertrand Russell. In this letter he declares himself ready to sign Russell’s order to get all nations to do without nuclear weapons (Einstein-Russell-Manifesto). This manifesto founds the international Pugwash movement.
1955  Einstein is brought to the hospital in Princeton on April 15. A few days earlier the aneurysm had burst.

Albert Einstein dies in the hospital in Princeton on April 18 in the early morning hours (about 1.15 am). He is 76 years old. His body is burned the same day and the ashes are about two weeks later scattered at an unknown place after a modest funeral service.


Albrecht FölsingAlbert EinsteinFrankfurt on the Main 1993
Philipp FrankEinstein. Sein Leben und seine ZeitMunich 1949
Armin HermannEinstein. Der Weltweise und sein JahrhundertMunich 1994
Editors: John Stachel, Robert Schulmann,
Martin J. Klein, A. J. Kox,
Diana Kormos Buchwald, a. o.
The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, Volume 1-13Princeton 1987-2012