War and Death (2) (1933 - 9).
"Austria seems bent on becoming National Socialist. Fate seems to be conspiring with that gang.
With ever less regret do I wait for the curtain to fall for me."
- Freud to Arnold Zweig, June 22 1936.
Adolf Hitler, who in the early years of the twentieth century had occupied the same area of Vienna as Freud, became Chancellor of Germany on the thirtieth of January 1933. His Nazi followers burned Freud's (and other leading Jews') books in Berlin, (as much due to the content as the author - universal theories that embraced non-Aryans and valued the individual over the State were unacceptable to the Nazis). Freud initially failed to appreciate the significance of the book-burning, as is shown by his rather unfortunate remark to Ernest Jones that this was indeed progress, a few hundred years ago they would have burned him instead! (1) However, most Austrians did not realise the brevity of the situation at this time and thought that the League of Nations would save them from anti Jewish laws. It was at this darkest moment for the Jewish race that Freud began to feel closer to his ancestry than ever before. He started work on Moses and Monotheism, which was finally published in 1938, in August of this year.
Moses was of the Totem and Taboo school of historical validity - it continued many of the arguments advanced therein, particularly in regard to the primitive heritage - and can be seen as the Jewish equivalent of the controversial film The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). Freud believed that the Moses who had first introduced monotheism was a high born Egyptian priest who was eventually killed by his Jewish followers. This Moses was later succeeded by a second one, who, thanks to the Jews' guilt feelings for having murdered his predecessor, was able to successfully implant the monotheistic religion. Moses illustrated that Freud's brand of Judaism would never be free from controversy - he chose, probably deliberately, the worst time to deprive the Jewish people of their greatest cultural hero. This is vividly portrayed in Terry Johnson's play Hysteria in a conversation between the aged Freud and his doctor, Yahuda (a semi fictitious character who appears to be a composite of Freud's own doctor, Max Schur, and the Jewish intellectuals who opposed the Moses work): "Moses was a Jew! Moses was chosen! If Moses was not a Jew, then we were not chosen! Deny Moses and you deny us! At this time, of all times. At this most terrible hour....." (2). As the Nazi menace grew Freud worried about the threat to psychoanalysis as much as to himself. Ironically Austrians proved to be more vicious than the Germans were to the Jews - they learned Nazi brutality very quickly. Psychoanalysis was obliterated in Austria but survived in Germany in a new Aryan form in the German General Medical Society for Psychotherapy under the sinister M.H. Goering and Freud's rebellious "son" from long ago, Carl Jung.
On the twelfth of March 1938 German troops entered Austria amid wild cheering and anti-Semitic violence from the Aryan population. The following day the Anschluss (union) between Austria and Germany was proclaimed. Most of Freud's friends and colleagues had left the country by now but Freud himself, defiant to the end, was very reluctant to go. It was not until his daughter Anna was taken prisoner by the Gestapo for a day that he agreed to leave. He managed to obtain exit visas for fifteen family members but was unable to bring his four sisters still living in Vienna as this was beyond his means. He left behind some finances to support them in the belief that they would be safe as concentration camps were only being used at this stage for political prisoners. He was wrong - Adolphine died of starvation at Theresienstadt, and the others were sent to Auschwitz or Treblinka and gassed to death around 1942. Freud escaped to England, where the people were as anti-Semitic before the war as they would be anti-West Indian after it. However, they seem to have made an exception in Freud's case as he received a welcome rivalling that of visiting royalty, leading him to remark: "It almost makes one feel like shouting 'Heil Hitler'!" (3). He had always loved England as much as he disliked America and had often thought of settling there like his half brothers. He died a peaceful death in London on the twenty-third of September 1939, twenty days after the beginning of the atrocious war which would confirm, if more proof were needed, that we are never free of our animal instincts.
1)See Gay, Peter ( 1995) Freud: A Life for Our Time, Papermac, London, p.592.
2) See Johnson, Terry (1993) Hysteria, or Fragments of an Analysis of an Obsessional Neurosis, Methuen Drama, London, p.15.
3) See Ferris, Paul (1997) Dr. Freud: A Life, Pimlico, London, p.394.
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ã Robin Tamblyn, 2000.
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