The wife and two daughters of the physics genius' cousin Robert were shot dead by German soldiers in Italy who accused them of spying. Robert Einstein had been in hiding not far from his house, his famous – and famously Jewish - name a death sentence at the time. He later killed himself.
An investigation into the case has been running since 2007 when new evidence surfaced about the case. Police and staff from the Central Office of the Judicial Authorities for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes have largely reconstructed the events of August 3, 1944 and are calling for a crucial witness to come forward.
When a group of German soldiers stormed the Einstein house in Rignano sull'Arno near Florence, Robert Einstein was not to be found, but his wife and daughters, aged 18 and 27, were seized.
When they were accused of spying and about to be killed, one young soldier from the group distanced himself from his comrades and went to a separate part of the house, according to investigators.
Investigators are looking for him, in the hopes he might be able to say who was in charge of the group and which officers were responsible for the deaths. It is thought the soldier was between 18 and 20 at the time and could still be alive.