Home Contact Us
Index Purchase Info
About Site About Us
Appendices Credits
Further Reading Links
Special Features
By Keyword:

Page Number:
Click on an image to see a larger, more detailed picture.
1938: The End of Illusions
 pg. 121 
    In 1930 Sigmund Freud published an important book entitled Civilization and Its Discontents. The famous Jewish psychoanalyst stated that civilization had developed so that human beings "would have no difficulty in exterminating one another to the last man." Freud hoped that awareness of this fact might check humanity's death-dealing inclinations.

The book sold well. When his publisher brought out a second edition in 1931, Freud added a final sentence. "Who can foresee," he wondered, "with what success and with what result, how the great struggle between life and death will play out?" Freud raised that question shortly after the Nazi Party's influence surged in Germany's 1930 elections.

By the end of the 1930s, Freud's worries about "civilization and its discontents" were more specific than they had been when the book first appeared. On March 12, 1938, for example, Freud, 82, was still living in Vienna, the city that had long been his home, when German troops crossed the Austrian border. By the next day the Anschluss, as the annexation of Austria became known, had made that country a part of the Third Reich. Hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic Viennese greeted Hitler's triumphal arrival. "As Führer and chancellor of the German nation and Reich," Hitler proclaimed from the balcony of the Hofburg on March 15, "I now report to history that my homeland has joined the German Reich."

Caught in life-and-death struggles with Nazism, Austria's 190,000 Jews would find themselves targeted by a campaign of persecution, expropriation, and forced emigration that moved more rapidly and thoroughly than anything the German Jews had as yet experienced. On June 4 Freud left Vienna, but only after the Gestapo had twice searched his apartment, interrogated his daughter Anna, seized family property, and extracted an emigration tax. In addition, Freud was required to sign a Nazi document to testify that he had not been mistreated. Getting away with risky sarcasm, he added: "I can most highly recommend the Gestapo to everyone."

Freud died in London on September 23, 1939. Meanwhile, the Anschluss posed a crucial problem for Nazi Germany, for it gave the Third Reich a Jewish population larger than the total number of Jews who had managed to leave Germany in the previous five years. National Socialist strategies had aimed at making life so uncomfortable for German Jews that they would emigrate, but these tactics had not been very successful. The dimensions of the "Jewish problem" created by the Anschluss called for more effective measures. Austria became the place to test them. One of those put in charge was a young, recently promoted Untersturmführer (second lieutenant). This rising expert on Jewish affairs was Adolf Eichmann

Sorry, an error has occurred retrieving this image.

Jewish merchants sweep up following Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass."
Photo: Rijksinstituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie/United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive

1938: The End of Illusions
 pg. 121 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.