As the Nazis Closed In, Sigmund Freud Refused to Leave Vienna until It Was Almost Too Late

Sept. 23 2022

Like other Jews who shaped and were shaped by pre-World War I Vienna, Sigmund Freud maintained an attachment to the city that was difficult to shake. This attachment explains why the founder of psychoanalysis did not emigrate after Austria descended into fascism in 1934, and was reluctant to leave even after the Nazi takeover in 1938. Patrick Blanchfield reviews a new book about these final years in the life of the most influential Jewish physician of modern times:

“Freud should have been uniquely qualified to understand the dark forces propelling his world to mass murder and destruction,” observes the veteran journalist Andrew Nagorski. “Why had Freud allowed himself to be trapped in this extremely perilous situation? Why had he failed to leave Vienna earlier when it would have been relatively easy for him to do so?” Nagorski’s excellent new book, Saving Freud: The Rescuers Who Brought Him to Freedom, tackles precisely this question, offering partly a narrative of Freud’s last years; partly a group biography of the patients, colleagues, and collaborators who served as his “rescue squad” in 1938; and partly a portrait of a city and a world on the brink of disaster.

[U]ntil the very last moment, Freud seems to have remained “in denial” about what was going on around him. Freud, to be sure, despised the Germans he contemptuously called Hitlerei, but at first clung to the belief that their movement would never succeed, telling [his American friend and disciple William C.] Bullitt, “A nation that produced Goethe could not possibly go to the bad.” Later, he insisted Nazism would never find traction in Austria, reassuring [another intimate, Marie] Bonaparte, “Our people are not quite so brutal.” . . . Yet each and every one of these hopes, grim or otherwise, ran aground on the bleak shores of what Freud elsewhere called “the reality principle.”

For if Freud preferred to avoid thinking too long about the Nazis, the Nazis certainly thought a great deal about Freud. Nazi propaganda relentlessly targeted “the Jewish science” of psychoanalysis, and cartoon after cartoon featured Jewish analysts in the crudest stereotypes imaginable, money-grubbing hucksters and perverts looking to sexualize children and entice pure Teutonic women onto their couches.

In the end, Freud and his family escaped to England, where he spent the final year of his life—thanks to the help of his network of friends and admirers, and of a sympathetic, if viciously anti-Semitic, Nazi official.

When the family finally got their visas, Freud was asked to sign a statement swearing that he had not been treated poorly. He did, and penned an addendum: “I can heartily recommend the Gestapo to everyone.” Once again, this is classic Freud—ironic to the end.

Read more at New Republic

More about: Austrian Jewry, Holocaust, Holocaust rescue, Sigmund Freud, Vienna

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy