Saving Freud: The Rescuers Who Brought Him to Freedom

Saving Freud: The Rescuers Who Brought Him to Freedom

A dramatic true story about Sigmund Freud’s last-minute escape to London following the German annexation of Austria and the group of friends who made it possible.

Now in Paperback in the US and the UK

In March 1938, German soldiers crossed the border into Austria and Hitler absorbed the country into the Third Reich. Anticipating these events, many Jews had fled Austria, but the most famous Austrian Jew remained in Vienna, where he had lived since early childhood. Sigmund Freud was eighty-one years old, ill with cancer, and still unconvinced that his life was in danger.

But several prominent people close to Freud thought otherwise, and they began a coordinated effort to persuade Freud to leave his beloved Vienna and emigrate to England. The group included a Welsh physician, Napoleon’s great-grandniece, an American ambassador, Freud’s devoted youngest daughter Anna, and his personal doctor.

Saving Freud is the story of how this remarkable collection of people finally succeeded in coaxing Freud, a man who seemingly knew the human mind better than anyone else, to emerge from his deep state of denial about the looming catastrophe, allowing them to extricate him and his family from Austria so that they could settle in London. There Freud would live out the remaining sixteen months of his life in freedom.

This book is both an incisive new biography of Freud and a group biography of the extraordinary friends who saved Freud’s life.

"I am a longtime fan of Andrew Nagorski’s work, and his phenomenal talent for personalizing history, allowing the reader to witness events through the eyes of those who lived them. Saving Freud is one of his finest—a spectacularly engaging and entertaining account of an incredible rescue.  Do not… more
"Part engrossing biography of the father of psychoanalysis, part vivid group portrait of the circle of notables who rescued Sigmund Freud from the Nazis, Andrew Nagorski's Saving Freud pulses with urgent life. Nagorski captures the power of self-delusion and denial even among the most brilliant… more
"An intimate, touching portrait of a genius as an old man. Ill, myopic, in denial and terribly vulnerable, this Freud is more human than any I've encountered before.Andrew Nagorski has an artist's eye for revealing detail and a novelist's ability to bring to life a long lost world and it's myriad… more
"As exciting and suspenseful as a spy novel, Andrew Nagorski’s masterful narrative reveals how an eclectic group of Sigmund Freud’s friends, ranging from an American ambassador to a French-born princess, came together to do the seemingly impossible: engineer his rescue from Nazi-controlled Austria… more
"A riveting analysis of exile, old-age and friendship, Nagorski uses his characteristic clarity to tell an untold story about a well-known man. Highly exciting and no less historically ambitious for it; John le Carré meets Ian Kershaw." - Emma Szewczak, Holocaust scholar and author of The Offset
Kirkus Reviews
A richly contextual look at Freud’s escape to London. A lifelong resident of Vienna, Freud had no intention of leaving when Hitler annexed Austria in 1938. In the end, he left because a team of admirers convinced him it was necessary. They persuaded Nazi authorities to let him go and got the… more
Publishers Weekly
Sigmund Freud’s vibrant life in Vienna and narrow escape from the Gestapo are recounted in this entertaining history. Journalist Nagorski (1941) reveals that Freud, who was 81 years old and struggling with cancer when Nazi Germany annexed Austria in March 1938, was in deep denial of the danger he… more
“Andrew Nagorski has written a gripping masterpiece about one of the greatest figures in history, whose insights about human beings as “savage beasts” could not be more timely.” - Professor Brett Kahr, Honorary Director of Research, Freud Museum London, and author of Freud’s Pandemics: Surviving… more
George Weigel
Few of the following qualify as “beach reading”; they all qualify as good reading. In graduate school, I was informed that there was no such thing as “biblical theology,” only textual analysis. Bishop Robert Barron demonstrates what nonsense that was, and is, in The Great Story of Israel: Election… more
Peter L.W. Osnos
Based on the bestseller lists of recent months, books by Donald Trump’s former attorney general Bill Barr, former defense secretary Mark Esper, and White House factotum Kellyanne Conway have amassed readers galore.  I was not among them.  Here’s a list of some books I read in the first half of 2022… more
Sebastian Faulks for The Sunday Times
He wouldn’t leave Vienna, so his friends bribed, fixed — and then bullied him on to a Paris train This is the astonishing story of Sigmund Freud’s last-minute escape from Vienna after the Germans rolled into Austria in 1938 and began to round up Jewish people like him. In a life marked by… more
Sarah Ziai for Vanity Fair (France)
Sigmund Freud was living in Vienna when Nazism took over Europe. He did not want to escape but a group of his loyal followers organized to force him to flee. The American journalist Andrew Nagorski retraces this incredible epic.  BY SARAH ZIAI Sigmund Freud loved Vienna too much. He loved her so… more
Ysenda Maxtone Graham for The Mail Plus
From the princess who couldn’t orgasm to the psychoanalyst accused of indecency, the friends who saved Freud from the Nazis were deeply damaged - and completely loyal With enemies like these, you do need friends. This was the life-lesson — and indeed the life-saving lesson — that Sigmund Freud… more
Stephen Frosh for The Jewish Chronicle
Father of psychoanalysis comes alive again in this book through the eyes of people who cared deeply that he should survive Sigmund Freud really should have known better. He had few illusions about human nature, having by 1920 invented the concept of the “death drive” to explain human… more
Simeon House for The Mail on Sunday
Of the many intriguing details in Andrew Nagorski's account of Sigmund Freud's escape from Nazi-run Viennia in 1938, my favourite is how the psychoanalyst swam breaststroke 'so that he could keep his coiffed beard out of the water.'  For Freud, Vienna was a lifestyle: he loved black coffee and… more
Anna Spydell for BookPage
Far from being a dry historical account, Saving Freud is a compelling, page-turning narrative of the urgent operation to rescue Sigmund Freud from the Nazis. “Finis Austriae” was the only entry in Sigmund Freud's journal on the day the Nazi army flooded over the Austrian border. In Saving Freud:… more
Kathryn Hughes for The Guardian
A gripping account of how colleagues and admirers spirited the psychoanalyst from Nazi-controlled Vienna to London By the spring of 1938 everyone in Sigmund Freud’s circle, apart from the great man, could see that the game was up. In March, the Nazis had annexed Austria, putting the founder of… more
Wall Street Journal by Diane Cole
The famous psychoanalyst had been blind to his mounting danger. Patients and colleagues came to his rescue. Andrew Nagorski’s absorbing chronicle of Sigmund Freud’s harrowing escape from Nazi occupied Vienna, “Saving Freud: The Rescuers Who Brought Him to Freedom,” is an insight-filled group… more
In SAVING FREUD, acclaimed author Andrew Nagorski has brought together the team of people who resolved to rescue psychology progenitor Sigmund Freud as the evils of the Nazi regime became increasingly obvious and the danger to all Jews in its purview an undeniable fact. Freud had lived most of his… more
Patrick Blanchfield for The New Republic
Although he lived more than a century ago, Sigmund Freud abides. Despite the magazine features and nonfiction bestsellers that regularly proclaim him a charlatan, a reactionary, an intellectual dead end, or simply “dead,” we live in a world fundamentally shaped by his legacy. We accuse one another… more
Rachel Newcomb for The Washington Post
The field of biographies about Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, is a crowded one. Notable works from the past few years include Adam Phillips’s “Becoming Freud: The Making of a Psychoanalyst” and Frederick Crews’s “Freud: The Making of an Illusion.” While Phillips portrayed the father of… more
Kitty Kelley for the Washington Independent Review of Books
Lights! Camera! Action! Andrew Nagorski’s Saving Freud ought to be coming to a theater near you. This nonfiction work crackles like a novel and sparks with the razzle-dazzle of a big-screen extravaganza: an unforgettable cast of characters (think “The Dirty Dozen”), spine-tingling suspense (“The… more
Christopher Osterberg for The Budapest Times
Mary Kay Linge for The New York Post
Two days after Adolf Hitler’s Germany swallowed up neighboring Austria, the brownshirts came for Sigmund Freud. The gang of Nazi thugs barged up the marble stairs of Berggasse 19 in Vienna on March 15, 1938, bent on terrorizing the world-famous founder of psychoanalysis and trashing the home where … more
Robert A. Cohn for the STL Jewish Light
Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, inspired both adulation and condemnation during his career, both of which are true to this very day, 83 years after his death in London in 1939. Freud, whose towering intellect inspired admiration from his fellow Germanic-Jew Albert Einstein, was so… more
Josh Cohen for the Times Literary Supplement
Puzzles and enigmas in the life of psychology’s founder How should we approach writing about the life of Sigmund Freud? For Freud every individual life is haunted by impulses, motives and desires unknown even to the person who lives it; his intricate cartography of the psyche makes it difficult to… more
Michael Curtis Nelson for Pop Matters
Andrew Nagorski’s engrossing biography, Saving Freud, brings forth the dangerous power of denial. For a man whose discoveries led to a global revolution in the science of mind and the treatment of psychological disorders, Sigmund Freud led a quiet life. He lived and worked in the same residence in… more
Brett Kahr
Professor Brett Kahr certainly knows something about the art of authoring books.  Over the decades, he has written or edited sixteen volumes and has served as series editor for more than seventy-five further titles. Most recently, Karnac Books has published his latest volume, Freud’s Pandemics: … more
Glenn C. Altschuler for The Jerusalem Post
In Saving Freud, Andrew Nagorski reviews Freud’s life and provides biographical sketches of the eclectic group of people who helped rescue him as the Gestapo was closing in. In May 1933, four months after Adolf Hitler became the German chancellor, thousands of students marched in a torchlight… more
Charles Dell­heim for the Jewish Book Council
Sig­mund Freud, like most refugees, might not have expect­ed to end his life in exile. Even so, Eng­land had long held a spe­cial place in his imag­i­na­tion. Writ­ing to H.G. Wells on July 13, 1938, he con­fessed, ​“Indeed, you can­not have known that since I first came over to Eng­land as a boy… more
Martin Mauthner for AJR Journal, The Association of Jewish Refugees
Sigmund Freud resisted pleas that he flee, when the Nazis annexed Austria in March 1938. He claimed he was too old and weak - cancer of his jaw had taken its toll. He changed his mind a few days later, after Nazi officials searched his home and his publishing firm, both in Berggasse, confiscating ‘… more
Sheldon Kirshner for The Times of Israel
From the moment German troops violated Austria’s territorial integrity on March 12, 1938, the prelude to Germany’s annexation of Austria, Austrian Jews were doomed. Three days later, as German Chancellor Adolf Hitler addressed 250,00o delirious Austrians from the balcony of the Hofburg palace in… more
Joan Baum for NPR
Andrew Nagorski’s “eureka moment” that inspired his fascinating, eminently readable new book, Saving Freud, was, he says, “the memoir of writer Stefan Zweig, who grew up in Vienna in the early 1900s. What a time! Zweig, little read today, was a literary giant and Vienna, an intellectual and… more
Jacinto Anton for El Pais
Cuatro hermanas del padre del psicoanálisis, que logró escapar de Viena tras el Anschluss en 1938, murieron en los campos, tres de ellas gaseadas en Treblinka Jacinto Antón Resulta difícil imaginar a Sigmund Freud, al que se suele asociar con la Viena de los Habsburgo y el mobiliario Biedermeier,… more
Celia Fraile Gil for ABC Cultural
In 'Saving Freud', Andrew Nagorski tells of the exciting escape of the father of psychoanalysis, in which a descendant of Napoleon and the granddaughter of the founder of Tiffany's also participated. l mismo día que Hitler anexionaba Austria al Tercer Reich, unos nazis irrumpieron en la residencia… more


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