Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
Introduction to the Ghettos of the Holocaust
Sigmund Freud was born in Freiberg, Moravia on the 6 May 1856. His father was a textile dealer, named Jacob who married for the first time when he was seventeen and had two children Emanuel and Philipp.
After his first wife died he married a woman named Rebecca but little is known of this relationship.
Jacob Freud married again for the third time a young woman of twenty, Amalia Nathansohn. Their first child was Sigmund, followed by Julius, who died at eighteen months, Anna, Rosa, Mitzi, Dolfi, Pauline and Alexander.
When Sigmund Freud was four Jacob’s business ran into difficulties and the family moved to Vienna, Austria.
Sigmund Freud studied medicine at the University of Vienna under Josef Breuer, and graduated with a medical degree in 1881.
Freud worked at the General Hospital in Vienna, and then he went to Paris in 1885 to study Jean Martin Charcot. After returning to Vienna Freud married Martha Bernays, and they had six children.
Freud opened a private practice, their address from 1891 was Berggasse 19, and the family lived at this address until the Nazis forced Freud to leave.
In 1900 Freud published his first major work “The Interpretation of Dreams” which established the importance of psychoanalytical movement. In 1902 Freud was appointed Ausserordentlicher Professor and he published another work “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.”
At the suggestion of a disciple, Freud founded in 1902 the Psychological Wednesday Society, later transformed into the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society.
From 1902 until 1938 he was a professor of neuropathology at Vienna. Freud produced during the first three decades of the 20th century a plethora of distinguished books and monographs on psychoanalysis.
He developed a method for treating hysteria by hypnosis. His theory that dreams are an unconscious representation of repressed desire, especially sexual desires brought him deserved world-wide fame.
By the beginning of the 1920’s, Freud writing had given rise to several associates of psychoanalysis. In his own life he was nearly muted due to a series of operations for mouth cancer, commencing in 1923 made him unable to lecture in public.
After the Nazis seized power, Freud’s psychoanalytic work came to an end in Germany and Freud’s books were among those works by Jewish authors were publicly burned.
The Nazis annexed Austria in 1938 and in 1939 Freud and his family were visited by the German authorities, and his daughter Anna was briefly arrested by the Gestapo. He recorded this in his diary, the entry for the 22 March 1938 “Anna bei Gestapo (Anna with Gestapo).
Freud and his family were allowed to leave Austria, after paying a large ransom, moving to London via Paris on the 4 June 1938, his address in London was 20 Maresfield Gardens.
Sigmund Freud died on the 23 September 1939 from throat cancer, three weeks after the outbreak of the Second World War. His death was eased by his doctor Max Schur administering to him morphine.
Three days after his death, Freud's body was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium in England during a service attended by Austrian refugees, including the author Stefan Zweig.
His ashes were later placed in the crematorium's columbarium. They rest in an ancient Greek urn which Freud had received as a present from Marie Bonaparte and which he had kept in his study in Vienna for many years.
Freud’s Sisters and the Holocaust
Three of Freud’s sisters Marie, Pauline Winternitz, and Rosa Graf-Freud were deported to Treblinka, on Transport Number BQ on the 23 September 1942 and murdered, in the gas chambers.
An eyewitness has recorded that one of Freud’s sisters, possibly Rosa, approached SS- Untersturmfuhrer Kurt Franz on the ramp and asked “to be given lighter walk on account of her poor health.”
Franz “assured her that her arrival in Treblinka was a mistake, in view of her poor health and that as soon as she had had her bath, she would be put on the first available train back to Vienna. “
Freund lost another sister Adolfine who was born in 1862 in Vienna. Deported to Theresienstadt she died on the 5 February 1943 from internal haemorrhaging.
The Holocaust by Sir Martin Gilbert, published by Collins, London 1986
Holocaust Historical Society
Yad Vashem – Central Database of Holocaust Victims
Sigmund Freud his life and his work website
Copyright: Michael Valentine 2008 H.E.A.R.T