In memoriam

All WPV members residing in Vienna managed to leave the country after the »Anschluss.« They – the survivors – had to mourn the loss of family and friends murdered in the Shoah from a distance.

Four WPV members, however, lost their lives during the war years: Rosa Walk, who emigrated from Vienna to Paris, and Ernst Paul Hoffmann, who was in Antwerp at the time of the »Anschluss,« Otto Brief from Prague, and Nikola Sugar from Subotica. They were interned and murdered or died as a consequence of deportation.

Ernst Paul Hoffmann

Ernst Paul Hoffmann was born in Radautz/Rădăuți in today’s Romania. After graduating from school in 1909, he enrolled as a student at the medical faculty in Vienna. In 1914, he completed his medical studies, in 1922, he began a training analysis with Paul Federn and, in 1926, he became an associate member of the WPV.

At the beginning of March 1938, Hoffmann was in Antwerp. Taken by surprise by the invasion of German troops in Austria, he sought political asylum in Belgium. On July 15, his wife and son joined him, in November 1938, they moved to Brussels. Hoffmann approached Bettina Warburg at the Emergency Committee, but before his efforts succeeded, German troops invaded Belgium on May 10, 1940. Already in April, after the German invasion of Norway, the Belgian government had established lists of »suspect individuals« – mainly foreign emigrants – which, without any legal basis, were to be arrested in case of an attack on Belgium. Hoffmann was arrested during an analysis session in Brussels.

Over the following years, Hoffmann was interned in various French camps: from May 14 to 29, 1940, at Le Vigeant; from May 30 to October 30, 1940, at Saint-Cyprien; from October 31, 1940, to March 9, 1941, at Gurs; and from March 10, 1941, to May 19, 1942, at Les Milles. Suffering from a chronic stomach sickness and without diet or medicine, his life was in immediate danger in the internment camps. In 1942, Hoffmann got leave from the camp to see to consular matters and to have a hernia operation. His hopes that his wife and son would follow him to Marseille came to nothing. After the end of his leave, his only escape was to flee to Switzerland, where he was arrested by Swiss border police on September 27, 1942.

For a short time, Hoffmann was detained in an internment camp at Aigle in the canton of Vaud. Because of severe depression, he was moved to a clinic where he also worked as a teacher and supervisor.

On December 23, 1944, Ernst Paul Hoffmann died in a hospital in Basle from complications after surgery for a duodenal ulcer without having seen his wife and son again.

Nikola Sugar

Nikola Sugar was born in Subotica in Vojvodina, which belonged to the Hungarian half of the Habsburg empire at the time, on August 25, 1897. He studied medicine in Budapest and, after receiving his doctorate in 1923, went to Berlin for specialist training in neurology and started a training analysis with Felix Boehm. From 1925, he lived in Vienna in order to complete his psychoanalytic training. He worked at the Neurologic-Psychiatric University Clinic under Paul Schilder and became a member of the WPV.

In 1926, he returned to Subotica and opened a private practice, the first psychiatrist in the city and the first psychoanalyst in Vojvodina. In 1937, he moved to Belgrade and was among the founding members of the Psychoanalytic Society of Serbia.

After the German attack on the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Sugar returned to Subotica, which was occupied by Hungarian troops. Right from the start of the occupation, the Jewish population was arrested and forced into improvised ghettos. From April 1944, the Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau; some of them were taken to nearby places under German occupation to serve as forced labor. Sugar was first deported to Szeged in southern Hungary and from there to Groß-Siegharts in Lower Austria. Between July 1944 and March 1945, a forced labor camp for around 250 Jews, women and men, was established there; the prisoners had to move earth or work for the Siemens-Schuckert plant. Sugar acted as a doctor for the agricultural workforce and also organized courses in Russian. As a »rebel element,« he was deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in mid-September 1944, where he worked in the hospital. In April 1944, he was brought to Theresienstadt concentration camp with 6,800 prisoners from Bergen-Belsen.

The circumstances of Nikola Sugar’s death remain unclear. His official date of death is given as May 15, 1945 – after the end of World War II.

Otto Brief

Otto Brief was born in the Moravian village of Znorow/ Vnorovy in today’s Czech Republic on December 31, 1891. From 1911, he was a registered student of medicine in
Vienna; on March 5, 1928, his move to Olmütz/Olomouc is recorded. Together with his wife Marie, a kindergarten educator, he was one of the co-founders of the Prague
working group of the WPV, which was headed, among others, by Steff Bornstein-Windholzova and Anni Reich. In 1935, Otto Fenichel joined after arriving from Oslo.

On May 26, 1939, Brief was arrested by the Gestapo in Prague. »Reason for arrest: communist views. Protective custody ordered by the State Police, Prague, on May 26,
1939.« After some months of arrest in Prague, Brief was transferred to Hof in Bavaria, where he was issued withprisoner number 2423. His record now said: »Protective
custody, political, Jew.« Only three days later, he was transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where his prisoner number was 14892/10151. Ten months later,
on September 5, 1940, he was transferred to Dachau concentration camp, prisoner number 17847. On July 12, 1941, Brief was transferred once more, this time to Buchenwald concentration camp, prisoner number 8680. Finally, he was deported to Auschwitz concentration camp on October 19, 1941, prisoner number 68378. He died there in December 1942. The cause of his death is unknown.

The frequent transfers can probably be explained by the efforts of the international psychoanalytic community to obtain Otto Brief’s release from the concentration camp. The substantial sum of 1,700 US Dollars (today approx. 30,000 Euros) was raised for this purpose, amongst others, by psychoanalysts Hanns Sachs and Max Eitingon. But the National Socialist authorities failed to keep their promises in the matter. On the occasion of Brief’s transfer to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, the camp administration sent Otto Brief’s clothes to his wife in order to suggest he was already dead. Only later, they were forced to admit he was still alive.

Rosa Walk

Rosa Walk (née Cilcer) was born in the at the time Hungarian city of Marmaroschsiget/Sighetu Marmației in today’s Rumania on April 30, 1893. After graduating from a girls’ grammar school in Budapest in December 1919, she began studying medicine in Frankfurt am Main. In 1924, she moved to Vienna, where she received her doctorate in 1928. In the same year, she applied to the WPV for a free training analysis. In 1933, she became an associate member of the WPV and opened a private psychoanalytic practice.

On June 17, 1938, the Viennese registration office recorded her notice of departure, and on June 20, Walk was present at a session of the Société psychanalytique de Paris. During the following management meeting, she applied for admission into the Paris society.

At the beginning of autumn 1939, former Austrian as well as German citizens were classified as »ressortissants ennemis« – enemy aliens who constituted a danger to national security – by the French authorities, and in 1939 and 1940, they were interned. In summer 1940, National Socialism ultimately caught up with the German-speaking migrants in France: for more than 2,500 people from former Austria, the exile in France, which they had believed to offer a safe haven, proved to be a dead end that directly led to the National Socialist concentration and extermination camps.

It seems that with the help of Marie Bonaparte, Walk initially successfully evaded internment. But in 1942, she was arrested by the Gestapo – probably in Southern France. The circumstances of her death are not entirely clear. On the one hand, people claimed she committed suicide after her arrest; on the other hand, her name is recorded on a deportation list according to which she was deported to Auschwitz from Drancy on convoy no. 27 on September 2, 1942, and murdered there.

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