As early as 1933 Freud's friends began advising him to emigrate to England. But though the Nazi threat hung over Austria for the next 5 years, in view of his advanced age he remained in Vienna, in the belief that the Austro-Fascist regime and the Catholic Church together would form a bulwark against Hitler's Germany - "only this Catholicism protects us from Nazism" (Freud to Lou Andreas-Salome). Catholicism was, of course, only the lesser evil in comparison with Nazism and he continued subjecting it to merciless criticism.
Marie Bonaparte, Freud, William C. Bullitt in Paris
Marie Bonaparte, Freud, William C. Bullitt
Reception in Paris at Gare de l'Est
When the "Anschluss" came on 13th March 1938 and Austria was annexed to Nazi Germany, he and his family were left with no alternative but to leave the country as soon as possible. As early as 15th March Freud's flat was searched: mass arrests of the Nazis' political opponents and attacks on Jews began immediately. Anna Freud was held for an entire day by the Gestapo for questioning. With the support of powerful foreign friends Freud managed to escape. The American ambassador in Paris, William C. Bullitt, saw that the American authorities in Vienna and Berlin should take care that he was not molested: meanwhile Ernest Jones used his political connections to obtain entry visas to England as quickly as possible.
Freud arriving in Paris
Freud arriving in Paris
England was the obvious choice for his new home and not only because Jones prepared the way for him. His most successful son Ernst and his family had already established themselves there since 1933. With the emigration of Jewish analysts from Germany during the 1930s London had now become the European centre for psychoanalysis.
It required a long struggle with the German bureaucracy in order to obtain exit visas for himself and his entire family entourage together with housemaid and doctor. Before he could leave the country he had to pay a sum of 31,329 Reichsmarks as so-called "refugee tax". After nearly three months of waiting, on 4th June 1938, the Freuds were finally able to begin their journey into exile. Sigmund Freud's four sisters remained in Vienna and were all murdered in Nazi concentration camps.
Freud in Paris on Maria Bonaparte's roof terrace
The Freud Family visiting Marie Bonaparte in Paris, June 5 1938
A few months after his arrival at his new home in London, in a broadcast for the BBC, Freud curtly summarized his experience of emigration: " At the age of 82 I left my home in Vienna as a result of the German invasion and came to England where I hope to end my life in freedom."
BBC-Interview  7.12.1938
Freud during the recording of the BBC-interview, 7.12.1938

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