Freud's War
Helen Fry

Freud's War

In a very human portrayal of Sigmund Freud and his family, the biography sheds light on a little written aspect of Freud’s life – Freud the man. Despite his worldwide reputation as the father of modern psychology, Sigmund’s security in his native Vienna changed overnight when Hitler’s forces annexed Austria in March 1938. That day he famously scrawled across his diary the words, Finae Austriae (Austria is finished). His books had already been burned across Germany five years earlier, but now he himself was in personal danger from the Nazis. The ensuing weeks whilst English and American friends tried to get him out, were exceedingly tense and demonstrate that it was not a foregone conclusion that he would be free. Twice, Freud suffered raids by the Gestapo and his beloved daughter Anna arrested. Fearing she may be taken to a concentration camp, Freud realized that he could no longer be in denial about his situation and agreed to flee the country of his birth. Tragically, his four sisters, all in their eighties, did not escape and perished in concentration camps.

It was after becoming refugees to Britain that the Freud family story takes another dramatic turn. Following their escape from Austria, both Sigmund’s son Martin and his grandson Walter found themselves behind barbed wire in the early part of the war. To secure a release, they both enlisted in the British Forces from internment camps. Walter Freud went on to train with SOE alongside other ex-Austrian refugees. Finally in 1945, his moment came and he was dropped behind enemy lines back into Austria in a daring night mission. The drop was a disaster and Walter found himself surviving alone in Nazi-held territory. With typical charisma he continued the aim of the mission without his colleagues and captured the strategic Zeltweg airfield in Southern Austria. Without a single back-up unit either, he successfully lied and convinced the German commander that he was acting on the orders of Montgomery, and the airfield was handed over to him before the Russians could take it.

Using previously unpublished family archives and photographs, including correspondence and Sigmund Freud’s diary, the biography opens a window onto the Freuds’ family life in pre-war Vienna as well as wartime Britain. Freuds’ War is an intimate portrayal of a family that lived after Sigmund’s own death in 1939 within his shadow. Whilst researching in the Freud family archives, Helen stumbled across a German manuscript in a suitcase. It turned out to be a lost WW2 novel by Sigmund’s eldest son Martin Freud. The novel has now been translated and published as Any Survivors?

Book Details:

  • Author: Helen Fry
  • Published Year: 2009
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: History Press

Helen Fry

Helen Fry was raised in North Devon and went on to graduate from the University of Exeter with a degree and Ph.D. She has written numerous books on the Second World War with particular reference to the 10,000 Germans and Austrians who fought for Britain. Her highly acclaimed book The King’s Most Loyal Enemy Aliens: Germans who Fought for Britain in the Second World War received international media coverage. The book is now out in paperback as Churchill’s Secret Soldiers. Helen has worked closely with war veterans with whom she has built up a special rela...
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