Life and Charector

Chapter 1 Life and character

Sigmund Freud was born on 6 May 1856 in the Moravian town of Freiberg, now Pribor in the Czech Republic. His mother, Amalie, was the third wife of Jacob Freud, a Jewish wool merchant, some twenty years younger than her husband. In 1859, when Sigmund Freud was three years old, the family moved to Vienna. For the next 79 years Freud continued to live and work in this city, for which he recurrently professed distaste, but which he was extremely reluctant to leave. In 1938, he was compelled to take refuge from the Nazis, and spent the last year of his life in England, dying on 23 September 1939, shortly after the beginning of the Second World War. Freud’s mother, a vivacious and charming lady who survived until the age of 95, was only 21 when Freud was born. She went on to bear seven other children; but Sigmund, referred to by her as ‘mein goldener Sigi’ (‘my golden Sigi’), remained her indisputable favourite, one circumstance to which Freud attributed his inner confidence. Freud also believed that his later success was directly related to his being a Jew. Although Freud never practised the Jewish religion and dismissed all religious belief as illusory, he was very conscious of being Jewish, made few friends who were not Jews, regularly attended the meetings of B’nai B’rith, his local Jewish society, and declined royalties from those of his books which were translated into Yiddish and Hebrew. He attributed his intellectual autonomy to his being Jewish, writing that, when he first

1. Freud arrives in Paris on his way to London, 1938, with Marie Bonaparte and William C. Bullitt. Marie Bonaparte (Princess George of Greece) paid the sum demanded by the Nazis to let Freud out of Austria, because his own bank account and cash had been confiscated. William Bullitt, the American ambassador in Paris, had been joint author with Freud of a (very bad) book on the former American president Woodrow Wilson

encountered anti-Semitism at the...