Despite his worldwide reputation as the father of modern psychology, Sigmund Freud’s security in his native Vienna changed overnight when Hitler’s forces annexed Austria on 12 March 1938. His books had already been burned across Germany, and now he and his family were at immediate risk. The day Hitler sent his troops over the border into Austria, Sigmund Freud scrawled across his diary “Finae Austriae” (Austria is finished). The Nazis carried out regular raids on Jewish families’ homes, and the Freuds were no exception. They suffered a period of house arrest and two months of uncertainty before finally securing papers for emigration to England.
It was after becoming refugees, however, that the Freuds’ story takes a fascinating turn. Following their dramatic escape from Austria, both Sigmund’s son Martin and his grandson Walter enlisted in the British Forces, with Walter going on to fight for Britain in SOE behind enemy lines in Austria. Using previously unpublished family archives and photographs, including correspondence and Sigmund Freud’s diary, Helen Fry opens a window onto the Freuds’ family life in pre-war Vienna. She presents an intimate portrait of Freud the man, and describes how this most famous of families became exiled from its homeland by the Nazis.
“We were driven out of Austria like mangy dogs and considered ourselves lucky to be alive.” - Walter Freud
Martin Freud was the eldest of Sigmund’s sons. In 2008 whilst writing Freuds’ War, Helen discovered a lost manuscript in a tatty suitcase in the attic of one of the Freud family. It was a lost WW2 novel written by Martin Freud and had never been published. It has since been translated from the original German, with editing by Helen. It is called “Any Survivors?”
“Any Survivors?” is a satirical and dramatic novel about a refugee who returns to Hitler’s Germany as a rather inept spy in a tale with a double twist.
‘There is the feeling that some of the scenes in the novel are autobiographical and reflect the refugee experiences of the Freud family’ Helen Fry