Einstein When Young
Albert Einstein was born on March 15, 1879, in the southern German city of Ulm, at the foot of the Swabian Alps. The house where he was born, 135 Bahnhofstrasse, was destroyed in a bombing raid during World War II. Both of his parents, Hermann and Pauline Koch Einstein, were Jewish, although they did not strictly practice the religion. The fact that they gave their son Albert and his sister Maria, who was born two years later, traditional German names rather than Old Testament names, such as Abraham and Sarah, shows that they had moved away from Orthodox Judaism. Nonetheless, their religious affiliation, [Israelitic,] was printed on Einstein's birth certificate, and it is interesting in light of this to speculate about what it might have meant for the history of modern science had Einstein been born a half century earlier or later in the same German city.
Until 1871, only eight years before Einstein's birth, Jews had not been considered full citizens of Germany; they did not have the same rights and opportunities as other Germans. Indeed, earlier in the century they had been forced to live in ghettos and were frequently required to wear special yellow badges—a practice revived by the Nazis