Visiting Sigmund Freud’s home in Vienna

In this post I continue to reflect upon my trip to Austria in 2009. I went to Berggasse 19 in Vienna, the former home of dr. Sigmund Freud. He lived there with his family for many years and his practise was also located in the apartment. When the political situation changed in the 1930s due to the raise of National Socialism in Germany and because of the Anschluss in which Nazi Germany forced Austria to join in the Reich; Sigmund Freud had to flee. Nazis once entered his apartment but were too afraid to do anything because Freud’s old testament persona scared them off. He knew they would come back. He understood he must flee Austria. His escape took place in 1938 with the help of a very rich former patient he could resettle in London were he died a year later. Freud was a heavy smoker and in the 1920’s he developed a leukoplakia in the mouth and was told to stop smoking. He later developed cancer in the mouth.


 

Today Freud’s apartment is converted into a Museum dedicated to his life and work. The very famous coach isn’t located here but in London. There were little furniture around but the walls are scattered with information about Freud’s life and the psychoanalysis he helped intervent. However, there were several small statues or figuerines on display which Freud once had collected. If you wish to visit this excellent site be sure you got some time. The place also holds a small shop selling Freud’s books.

Freud was born 1856 to Jewish parents in the Moravian town of Freiberg now called Prbor, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Czech Republic). He qualified as a doctor of medicine in 1881 at the University of Vienna. Five years later he started his own clinic and received patients in his apartment. He was a neurologist and the father of Psychoanalysis; a form of therapy. In 1902 he became a University professor. In creating psychoanalysis, Freud developed therapeutic techniques such as the use of free association and discovered transference, establishing its central role in the analytic process. 


Freud’s therapy focus a lot on sexuality and the interpretation of dreams. He developed several theories about man’s sexuality including the famous Oedipus Complex. These assets helped him form a clinical analysis which could explain repression in some cases and help patients with abnormal or complex mental conditions. He also created a theory about the unconscious and its mechanisms in relation to man’s ego.

 

Freud’s theories were not well-recieved in his own time and today we still cannot verify them which has led to the conclusion psychoanalysis as a theraphy is heavily critized. But one of his biggest contributions to the medical field was his focus on the patients previous experiences and the need to search for explanations to a patient’s mental condition. This sound like a basic thing to do today, but one must remember that in Freud’s own time focus was only on treatment and not searching for the cause of the condition. Freud also practised Self-Analysis and his most famous work The Interpretation of Dreams first published 1899 had its origins in his own personal crisis dealing with the death of his father.

Despite the criticism Freud’s ideas continue to live on and he has not only made his mark on Psychology; but also on numerous Academic fields such as anthropology and Semiotics. I liked visting the Museum and see the place where he and his family lived for so many years.

All photos in this post were taken by me on the visit. Make sure you got plenty of time while visiting Freud’s Museum since there was plenty to read when I was there in 2009.

Sources

wikipedia.org

My visit to The Vienna Central Cemetery: The Jewish Experience and WW2

IN THIS post I will write about my visit to one of the most well-known cemeteries in Europe and Austria. My journey was back in 2009 but I still remember my visit very well as I spent about two hours walking the older Jewish part of the cemetery. The Vienna Central cemetery (Wiener Zentralfriedhof) is also a cultural landmark receiving many tourists. It’s the final resting place of famous people like Beethoven and Mozart. As I arrived with my Nikon it was a very hot day in July it was all very quiet and I honestly can’t remember I saw that many people around. The photo below is what you can expect the old Jewish section to look like a warm beautiful summer’s day. Many stones are overgrown by vegetation reminding us this place soon 100 years ago was active and full of family members attending beloved ones final resting places. But as National Socialism arose in Germany in 1930s and Austria was ‘captured’ in 1937 all Jews were deported to Concentration Camps in Eastern Europe. You can see this for yourselves on several stones that something happened because there are no further burials or deaths noticed on the stones between 1939-1945 since their family members died in the Concentration Camps. In that point of view the Cemetery is a horrible reminder on what happened to Austrian Jews during WW2. 

Several non-Catholic denominations share the Zentralfriedhof and there’s an Evangelischer Friedhof. By far the largest non-Catholic sections, however, are the two old and new Jewish cemeteries.

A Rabbi’s gravesite

ONE of most interesting discoveries was a tomb of a rabbi and as I managed to sneak myself in with my camera I noticed people had scribbled several messages to him at the walls and the ceiling. I also noticed many of the messages dated to the late 1930’s and as early as 2004. All the messages are written in German and likely scribbled down by one-time vistors seeking the blessing of the deceased rabbi. Most of the content are somewhat desperate begging the rabbi to bless their souls and asking for help or guidance.

All photos in this post was taken by me. I saw several interesting graves with family names connected to many wellknown historical persons in Vienna history; such as Viktor Frankl and Arthur Schnitzler.

Gravesite of author Arthur Schnitzler

Arthur Schnitzler (15 May 1862 – 21 October 1931) was an Austrian author and dramatist. I was really happy upon discovering his grave since I love his novel Rhapsody – also published as Dream Story (Traumnovelle – 1925/26), later adapted as the film Eyes Wide Shut by American director Stanley Kubrick.

Notice all the small stones on Schnitzler’s grave. All of them marks an unique visit as it’s a Jewish custom to place a stone on a grave. There are many explanations why we place a stone rather than flowers which is connected to pagan worship in some Rabbinic sources. In the Torah patriarch Abraham builds an altar to God by help of stones. The Temple in Jerusalem was built by stones and The Wailing Wall surrounding the Second Temple. While flowers wither and die a stone can represent a more lasting memory. In European Jewry with a rich superstitious tradition the grave is the deceased’s new home and not make the soul go wander among the living a stone is said to keep it were it belongs until Judgement Day. You are welcome to comment on my post if you wish to share your experience on this famous cemetery.