xxxvi INTRODUCTION TO VOLUME 1 Einstein was born in Ulm and spent his childhood in Munich, where he obtained his primary and secondary schooling. Many traces of his South German background (as well as of his later stay in Switzerland) are found in his choice of words, especially in his letters to Maric. His attachment to the German cultural tradition in literature, philosophy, and music is evident in his letters, as is his negative reaction to German authority-worship and anti- Semitism. At the age of fifteen he left Munich in the middle of the school year and joined his family in Italy, where his father and uncle had moved their electrotechnical firm. An attempt to enter the Swiss Federal Polytech- nical School (ETH) failed, and he was advised to complete his secondary schooling. He did so in Switzerland in the technical section of the Aargau Kantons- schule (see the editorial note about this school). He flourished in the liberal atmosphere of the school and came to know Swiss life through the Winteler family, in whose home he lived while in Aarau. This stay led to his first se- rious romance, with Marie, one of the Winteler daughters. Both sets of par- ents looked kindly on their relationship, but Einstein ended it within a year. Through school expeditions and holiday trips, he came to appreciate the beauty of the Swiss mountains and lakes. Music, which had a significant place in his emotional life, also played a large role in his social life while in Aarau and thereafter. By the time Einstein left Aarau, he was sure of his vocation: the study of physics, especially its theoretical aspects. His years in Section VI A of the ETH constituted his apprenticeship in physics (see the two editorial notes about the ETH). Apart from H.F. Weber's lectures, his study of theory con- sisted primarily of self-instruction. Einstein was also fascinated by his work in Weber's laboratories, which were among the best-equipped academic laboratories in the world. His letters suggest that such experimental work played a significant role in his approach to physics. While at the ETH, Einstein became acquainted with Mileva Maric, a Serb born in a region of Hungary that is now part of Yugoslavia. She had obtained a secondary-school education that included physics at a time when this was not easy for women. Now a student at the ETH, she began to study together with Einstein. By 1899 they were close friends, spending most of their free time with one another. The following year they were in love, and right after his graduation, Einstein told his mother of their plan to marry. His parents made their opposition clear. Unlike his fellow graduates of Section VI A in 1900, Einstein did not secure a position as Assistent, the first rung on the academic ladder. An attitude of independence, considered excessive by his professors, may have
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