5 2 D O C U M E N T 5 4 J U N E 1 9 2 3
54. From Emil Zürcher
Zurich, 2 June 1923
Highly esteemed Professor,
Mrs. M. Einstein is asking me, in great distress, what her situation is after
your—to her—terribly reproachful
She thinks it is not impertinent if I, fol-
lowing her wish, write to you.
I only want to do this, though, if I may write as if I had to legally assess a histor-
ical, distant case, whose deeper motives I do not know.
1. The judge who rules a divorce is obliged to assure the care of the needy di-
vorced spouses & the children. He can do this by checking for material accuracy
the contract submitted to him and then make it a component of his ruling. Follow-
ing the civil lawmaker’s intent, any alteration by the parties to the regulation of
matters set forth in the contract is prohibited. According to Art. 157 of the Civil
Code, the judge has to perform alterations to the contract, insofar as the contract
defines the alimony for the children, if one of the divorced parties petitions it and
if in the judge’s view the changed circumstances make such a change necessary.
2. The contract states in no. 4 that the capital of the Nobel Prize by your prerog-
ative wish & your decision will be reserved for the children in the sense that the
mother may draw on the interest for her and the children’s alimony & that she will
appear as owner of the capital, but after her death or remarriage the capital will be-
long to the
The management for the period when the children are not
yet owners of the capital is the parents’ responsibility; the mother may not, howev-
er, make any arrangement without the father’s approval; the father is opposing the
stipulation that the capital be deposited in a Swiss bank; furthermore, the mother,
because she is the owner according to the contract, must give her approval to the
management arrangements.
Now a difficult problem poses itself for Mrs. Einstein: If she agrees to an alter-
ation to the contract (deposit in New York) and if the New York
insolvent (it is not a national bank, of course, like the Swiss Nationalbank or a can-
tonal bank) or causes some other complications, won’t the Zurich Orphans Office
come & tell her that she had acted contrary to her obligation toward the children in
that she arbitrarily deviated from the text of the divorce decision? It involves an al-
imony provision adopted into the divorce ruling for the children; may she light-
heartedly act against these provisions, the import of which nobody can foresee in
these current insecure times? Would it not be safer & simpler to implement the con-
tract and then ¢with time² later alter the contract with the judge’s consent in such a
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