The “gripping” true story of the founder of psychoanalysis—and how he made it out of Austria after the Nazi takeover (The Independent).
Sigmund Freud was not a practicing Jew, but that made no difference to the Nazis as they burned his books in the early 1930s. Goebbels and Himmler wanted all psychoanalysts, especially Freud, dead, and after the annexation of Austria, it became clear that Freud needed to leave Vienna. But a Nazi raid on his house put the Freuds’ escape at risk.
With never-before-seen material, this biography reveals details of the last two years of Freud’s life, and the people who helped him in his hour of need—among them Anton Sauerwald, who defied his Nazi superiors to make the doctor’s departure possible. The Escape of Sigmund Freud also delves into the great thinker’s work, and recounts the arrest of Freud’s daughter, Anna, by the Gestapo; the dramatic saga behind the signing of Freud’s exit visa and his eventual escape to London; and how the Freud family would have an opportunity to save Sauerwald’s life in turn.
“Full of fascinating insights and anecdotes . . . Cohen draws copiously on the correspondence between Freud and [his nephew] Sam to paint a vivid picture of their complex and deeply troubled family.” —Daily Mail
“An illuminating look at the end of the life of a giant of psychology.” —Kirkus Reviews
Only a small part of this book is about 82-year-old Sigmund Freud's escape from Vienna to London in June 1938, but that part is fascinating. Psychologist, filmmaker, and writer Cohen (Psychologists on Psychology) relates how Freud was able to leave the city with the extensive help of an Austrian Nazi official, Anton Sauerwald, who saved Freud's son Martin from almost certain arrest and supervised the packing of 1,000 pieces of art from Freud's residence. Aside from this story, Cohen briefly offers a biography of Freud and his extended family, including such little-known material as the involvement of his uncle and two half-brothers in a criminal conspiracy. The author also provides useful summaries of Freud's last three books, including Moses and Monotheism. Cohen's frequent digressions are amusing, as when he quotes E.B. White's parodies of Freud, and sometimes a bit distasteful, as when he notes, "Freud kept two urine bottles by his desk and was clearly in the habit of peeing into them." Occasionally, too, Cohen lapses into clich s ("Freud and Jung were... like yin and yang, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper"). Generally, however, Cohen's book is informative, entertaining, and sometimes gripping.