(1856 - 1939)
Among the manuscripts in the Library's collections
is a letter written by Albert
Einstein to Sigmund Freud on April 29, 1931, on the occasion of Freud's 75th birthday.
I am very happy that your 75th birthday provides
me the opportunity to thank you. You see, every Tuesday I read from
your works with a lady who is a friend of mine, and cannot admire
enough the beauty and truth of your presentation. Excepting only Schopenhauer,
there is no one can write or could have written in such a manner.
The psychological insights are accessible to a thick-skinned
person like me only by way of reason but not in direct fashion. So
that I react alternately with faith or a lack thereof, but cannot
From my very heart I wish you the full measure of
pleasure you provide the cultivated individual, and cordially greet
Yours, A. E.
The letter is in the Library's Freud Collection.
A letter from Einstein
to Freud on the occasion of Freud's seventy-fifth birthday, April
29, 193 1. The letter, though informal in tone, is rather reserved
in sentiment, for though Einstein and Freud each recognized the eminence
of the other, their relationship never developed into friendship.
Albert Einstein, Letter to Sigmund Freud, April 29, 193 1. Manuscript
Division, Sigmund Freud Collection.
Einstein's two manuscripts would be an adornment for
any library. The sixty thousand or so items in the Freud archives make
the Library of Congress the greatest repository of Freudiana, a veritable
treasure house for scholars and students alike; and among those treasures
are items of Jewish interest.
In the Library's Rare Book and Special Collections
Division is an excellent copy of the first edition of Freud's greatest
work, Die Traumdeutung (Interpretation of Dreams), Leipzig and
Vienna, 1900 (really 1899), which was once the property of "Med.
Dr. Fritz Magyar, Wien I, Hegelgasse 4." Freud presented his earliest
views on dream interpretation at the Jüdischee akademische Lesehalle,
first in 1896 and again a year later. On December 7 and 14, 1897, he
delivered papers on "Traumdeutung" to the Vienna lodge of
B'nai B'rith, of which he had become a member in September. These were
the first of twenty-seven lectures before B'nai B'rith between 1897
and 1917. The society's journal reports on the first two:
Two lectures by Brother Dozent Dr. Freud about interpretation
of dreams. The lecturer beginning with the familiar physiological
causes of dreams, discussed the psychology of dream life and established
the principles of a self-contained theory. In the conclusion of his
ingenious interpretation, he said:
"whoever is occupied with the dreams of man and understands their
true meaning peers into the secrets of the human soul as into a crater
imbedded within the earth's dark interior."
Dennis B. Klein, whose Jewish Origins of the Psychoanalytic
Movement, New York, 1981, informs us about this phase of Freud's
life and activities, records the reaction of the audience. One reported:
"From beginning to end, everyone present listened with rapt attention
to Freud's words"; another, "The audience expressed their
gratitude and approval with unrestrained applause."
Under his portrait drawn
in pen and ink by Robert Kastor, 1925, for inclusion in a book on
the greats of the world, Sigmund Freud wrote:
There is no medicine against death, and against error no rule has
Robert Kastor, "Sigmund Freud," 1925. Prints and Photographs Division.
Why did Freud seek out a Jewish audience for his scientific
lectures? The answer is, alas, that no other group would provide him
a platform, or a sympathetic hearing. In the spring of 1897, Emperor
Franz Josef, after four refusals, finally accepted the outspoken anti-Semite Karl Lueger as Mayor of Vienna. Anti-Semitism
was rife in Vienna, and Freud had felt its sting, being denied professional
promotion once and again. Only fellow Jews provided the audience and
the appreciation the father of psychoanalysis needed so desperately
at that stage in his life and work, as he was moving from his career
as a physician to becoming the "Founding Father" of the movement.
In 1926, when Freud's lodge brothers celebrated his
seventieth birthday, illness kept him from attending the celebration,
but he wrote to them:
What bound me to Judaism was, I must confess, not
belief and not national pride ... Other considerations ... made the
attractiveness of Judaism and Jews irresistible ... Because I was
a Jew I found myself free from many prejudices which limited others
in the use of their intellect, and being a Jew, I was prepared to
enter opposition and to renounce agreement with the "compact
Like Einstein, Freud served on the Board of the Hebrew
University, but unlike him, Jewish interests and Jewish identity were
not major concerns. The Library has the manuscript copy of his "Ein
Wort Zum Antisemitismus" (A Word on Anti-Semitism), which appeared
in Die Zukunft: ein neues Deutschland ein neues Europa, November
25, 1938, a German emigre weekly edited by Arthur Koestler, published
in Paris. In it Freud includes the precis of an essay ostensibly by
a non-Jew which defends the Jews. Critical of the nature of Christian
protest against anti-Semitism, which the author contends was scanty
and came too late, he writes:
We profess a religion of love. we ought to love even
our enemies as ourselves. We know that the Son of God gave his life
on earth to redeem all men from the burden of sin. He is our model
and it is therefore sinning against His intention and against the
command of the Christian religion if we consent to Jews being insulted,
illtreated, robbed and plunged into misery. We ought to protest against
this, irrespective of how much or how little Jews deserve such treatment.
For long centuries we have treated the Jewish people
unjustly and we are continuing to do so ... Jews are no worse than
we are ... Nor can we call them in any sense inferior. Since we allowed
them to co-operate in our cultural tasks, they have acquired merit
by valuable contributions in all spheres of science, art and technology,
and they have richly repaid our tolerance. So let us cease at last
to hand them out favors when they have a claim to justice.
The November 25, 1938,
issue of the German emigre weekly Die Zukunft (The Future),
edited by Arthur Koestler, published Freud's "Ein Wort Zum Antisemitismus"
(A Word on Anti-Semitism), Freud's most significant statement on the
subject. The three-page signed holograph manuscript is in the Library's
Sigmund Freud, "Ein Wort Zum Antisemitismus," 1938. Manuscript Division,
Sigmund Freud Collection.
Ernest Jones suggests that these words were written
by Freud himself, and he may well be right. They were written soon after
Freud completed his one major work of Jewish interest, which was published
in 1939 in Amsterdam as Der Mann Moses und die Monotheistische Religion,
and that same year as Moses and Monotheism in New York, a work
which raised a storm of protest in the Jewish world. To maintain that
monotheism was an Egyptian invention and Moses an Egyptian who was murdered
by the Jews because of his message, was to rob the Jewish people of
its greatest contribution and its greatest leader. To do this at a time
when Judaism was being viciously maligned and Jews were being brutally
treated gave all Jews pause.
In the Freud Collection we find the manuscript of the
work in its three parts, "Moses Ein Ägypter" (Moses an
Egyptian); "Wenn Moses Ein Ägypter War. . . " (If Moses
were an Egyptian ... ); and "Moses, Sein Volk, und die Monotheistische
Religion" (Moses, His People, and Monotheistic Religion). The manuscript
also bore an earlier title, Der Mann Moses, Ein Historischer Roman (The Man Moses, A Historical Novel). The first two parts appeared in
1937 in the Viennese journal Imago; the third part was first
published as the third section of the completed book.
The complete holograph
manuscript of the three parts of Freud's Der Mann Moses und die
Monotheistische Religion (Moses and Monotheism), as well as the
corrected galleys, are in the Library's Freud Collection. The first
page shown of "Wenn Moses Ein Ägypter War . . ." (If Moses Were
an Egyptian) is dated 24/5/1937.
Sigmund Freud, Der Mann Moses und die Monotheistische Religion,
1937. Manuscript Division, Sigmund Freud Collection.
Interpretation and critique of Moses and Monotheism are wide and varied. Professor Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi in the Lionel
Trilling Lecture he delivered at Columbia University on November 14,
1986, noted that none of the scholars and critics had mentioned a manuscript
of the work. He expressed delight that his inquiry to the Freud archives
at the Library of Congress had brought him a Xerox copy of the original
draft "different in significant ways from the published version."
He found an original unpublished introduction, which Freud concluded
My immediate purpose was to gain knowledge of the person Moses, my
more distant goal to contribute thereby to the solution of a problem,
still current today.
Yerushalmi also found that the manuscript draft and
printed work differ substantially in their opening sentence. The original
read: "One will not easily decide to deny a nation its greatest
son because of the meaning of a name" (Moses is an Egyptian name).
In its final form it reads: "To deprive a people of the man whom
they take pride in as the greatest of their sons is not a thing to be
gladly or carelessly undertaken especially when one himself
belongs to that people" (emphasis added). Yerushalmi argues,
elegantly and forcefully, that Moses and Monotheism is a work
neither of negation nor degradation but of affirmation and pride in
belonging to a people from whom, Freud writes:
there rose again and again men who lent new color to the fading tradition,
renewed the admonishments and demands of Moses, and did not rest until
the lost cause was once more regained ... And it is proof of a special
psychical fitness in the mass which became the Jewish people that
it could bring forth so many persons who were ready to take upon themselves
the burden of the Mosaic religion ... It is honor enough for the Jewish
people that it has kept alive such a tradition and produced men who
lent it their voice, even if the stimulus had first come from the
outside, from a great stranger.
Retained in the Freud family
papers is this Yahrzeit und Trauer-Andachtsbuch, presented
to the bereaved family of Freud's brother-in-law and distant relative,
Maurice Freud, who died in Berlin on September 7, 1920. Freud cancelled
an important trip to England to hasten to Berlin to be with the bereaved
family at that time. Both Freuds, Maurice and Sigmund, had been born
the same year, 1856.
Yahrzeit und Trauer-Andachtsbuch, Berlin, 1920, Manuscript
Division, Sigmund Freud Collection.
In 1920, Freud began to be obsessed by death. This
has been attributed to the death of his beloved daughter, Sophie, about
which he wrote to Sandor Ferenczi, "Since I am profoundly irreligious
... there is no one I can accuse." Yet among his family papers,
this profoundly irreligious man retained a small book of special Jewish
prayers dealing with death. In box B3 we find a black-covered Yahrzeit
booklet issued by a Berlin undertaker, which contains prayers in Hebrew
and German to be said on the anniversary of the death of a loved one
and at memorial services. Inscribed on the first page is the name of
the one to be memorialized and the date of his death: "Maurice
Freud, 24 Elul, 5680 (September 7, 1920)." Maurice or Moritz Freud
was a cousin once-removed who was married to Sigmund's sister Marie.
He died suddenly of a heart attack in Berlin, and Sigmund cancelled
a professionally important trip to England "to go back to Berlin
to see Marie and the orphan." Why did Freud retain the Yahrzeit
booklet? It might help to point out that Sigmund was well aware that
Moritz had been born in 1856, the year of his own birth. I leave it
to Freudians to ponder.
Sources: Abraham J. Karp, From
the Ends of the Earth: Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress,
(DC: Library of Congress,