Organized Escape – Survival in Exile. Viennese Psychoanalysis 1938 and Beyond

Opening of the special exhibition

Thursday, November 11, 2021, 7 pm

Sigmund Freud Museum


Monika Pessler, Director Sigmund Freud Museum
Hannah Lessing, Secretary General of the National Fund

About the Exhibition
Daniela Finzi, Research Director Sigmund Freud Museum
Thomas Aichhorn, Psychoanalyst and Member of the Working Group


Registration required (see below)

The exhibition ORGANIZED ESCAPE – SURVIVAL IN EXILE. VIENNESE PSYCHOANALYSIS 1938 AND BEYOND, which opens on November 12, 2021, will portray the fates of the – mostly Jewish – psychoanalysts who had to leave Vienna after the “Anschluss”, the annexation of Austria into National Socialist Germany. Due to the efforts of the international psychoanalytic community, most members and candidates of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society (Wiener Psychoanalytische Vereinigung, WPV) were able to flee. A particularity of this escape is the fact that emigration was organized collectively, and was successful but for a few exceptions. The members who had thus escaped being murdered substantially contributed to the further development and global dissemination of psychoanalysis in their new home countries.


The Organized Escape

In close consultation with Anna Freud, it was in particular the British psychoanalyst Ernest Jones who resolutely and persistently orchestrated the systematic rescue operation from London. In fact, all Viennese psychoanalysts under threat had managed to flee Vienna by spring 1939. Sigmund Freud had left the city by train with all his family on June 4, 1938, settling in London, where he died in September 1939. Not a single one of the emigrated WPV members was to return permanently to Vienna after the war.


Documents, Maps, Lists

The exhibition allows visitors to trace escape routes and shows bureaucratic and organizational efforts by presenting selected biographies, correspondences, historical documents and maps. The most important testimony to this organized escape is a list with names and annotations that Ernest Jones compiled in 1938. Audio and video interviews provide personal insights.


From Individual Historical Fates to Current Refugee Movements

On the basis of selected individual fates of members who fled Vienna, the exhibition illustrates the development of psychoanalysis in exile and its continued life in Vienna after the WPV was reestablished in 1946. The exhibition thus allows for a differentiated approach to questions that are still relevant today, regarding antisemitism and xenophobia as well as current refugee movements.


Digital and Analogue Exhibition

Exhibition contents will not only be presented in the museum in Berggasse 19, but will also be available at


Curators of the exhibition were Daniela Finzi and Monika Pessler (Sigmund Freud Museum) in cooperation with the “Working Group on the History of Psychoanalysis“ (Thomas Aichhorn, Georg Augusta, Eva Kohout, Roman Krivanek, Nadja Pakesch, Alix Paulus and Katharina Seifert), which was initiated by the two International Psychoanalytic Association member institutions based in Vienna – the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society (WPV) and the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association (WAP).



Special exhibition at the Sigmund Freud Museum
November 12, 2021 to April 30, 2022


Supported by

Stadt Wien – MA 7
Nationalfonds der Republik Österreich für Opfer des Nationalsozialismus (National Fund)
Botstiber Institute for Austrian-American Studies
Zukunftsfonds der Republik Österreich
Wiener Psychoanalytische Vereinigung
Freund:innen des Sigmund Freud Museums
American Friends of the Sigmund Freud Museum


This registration is for the event on site. We kindly ask for binding registration. After submitting your data, you will receive a confirmation via e-mail.

If you require barrier-free access, please inform us in the course of your registration.

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