Freud, Ernst (1892-1970)

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FREUD, ERNST (1892-1970)

Ernst Freud was born on April 6, 1892, in Vienna and died April 7, 1970, in London. The fourth of six children of Sigmund and Martha Freud, he was named in honor of Ernst Brücke. As a child there were references to him in his father's correspondence, where Sigmund Freud discussed the child's angina and various fevers. On June 12, 1900, Freud wrote, "Ernst had a fever again for four days. He has unflagging energy, even with a 38.5 [°C] fever he continues to cry out: I won't be able to get well, I want to get up; it was only at 39.5 [°C] that this cantankerous fellow took note and became amiable."

He seems not to have been overly influenced by his father's fame and chose his profession without interference. On June 15, 1909, Freud wrote to Oskar Pfister, "Ernst, who was your favorite and has almost become ours, is taking his final examination, although he is suffering from an ulcer of the small intestine and is not doing well at all. He wants to become an architect. I don't know if I'm supposed to agree with this." In fact he did become an architect, though he was often referred to as the "fortunate child" or, as Freud wrote to his friend Max Eitingon in London in 1938, "a tower of strength."

A militant Zionist, he participated in the Zionist Congress held in September 1913 in Vienna. Along with his brother Martin, he joined the army in 1914; he left for Galicia in August 1915 but returned a year later on leave to see his family, "as sprightly as ever." He was demobilized without problem but suffered for years from the results of pneumonia contracted during the war.

After the war he completed his studies at the Munich Technische Universität and, in December 1919, settled in Berlin, where he became engaged to Lucy Brasch, marrying her shortly afterward ("Lux," 1896-1989). "To all appearances a good and beautiful creature," Freud wrote to Lou Andreas-Salomé. That same year Karl Abraham had, on March 13, told his father that Ernst "had attained lasting merit in setting up the clinic [and would be] universally admired."

Ernst and Lucy's first child, Stefan (Stephen) Gabriel, was born July 31, 1921, "He is my fourth grandson, but I regret the absence of a grand-daughter," Freud wrote to Ernest Jones, who wrote back, "I was delighted to learn that Ernst has a son: a new acquisition for Zionism." Lucy, who was not Jewish, "had been so sure of having three sons that she decided from the beginning to give each of them the name of an archangel in addition to a more earthly first name." (Jones, 1959, III) There followed Lucian Michael on December 8, 1922, who became a well-known painter, a friend of Francis Bacon, and of Klemens (Clement) Raphael, who was known in Great Britain as a television host, a specialist in gastronomy, and a deputy in the Liberal Party. Freud met these friends for the first time in Berlin during Christmas 1925, and it was in Berlin, while staying with his son, that he was visited by Albert Einstein and his wife.

The "architect," as Ernst was known, helped renovate the Tegel clinic between 1927 and 1928. It was also in 1928 that he worked on the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute. On October 22, 1930, Freud wrote to Lou Andreas-Salomé, "Today, I gave my son Ernst the order to send you a thousand marks from the Goethe prize money he is holding for me."

In 1933 the rise of Nazism forced Ernst to emigrate, in spite of the fact that "he was sheltered because of his wife," as Freud wrote to Jones. Moreover, it was because of his wife that he chose Great Britain, where he arrived during the summer. On June 3, 1933, Jones told Sigmund, "We were able to provide Ernst with good introductions and he has certainly lived up to his reputation as being a Glücksind (lucky person). You have nothing to worry about as far as he is concerned. We will be delighted to have him in England, even though I have wondered if, with his bubbly personality, he wouldn't be better off in France."

His integration in British society was not without difficulties, in spite of the help of Jones, who commissioned him to build a wing for his cottage in 1935-1936. On October 14, 1937, Arnold Zweig wrote to Freud, "I need to get in touch with you and let you know that I was pleased with my visit to your Ernst in London. He is tranquil, serene, and full of juvenile enthusiasm, and his home is delightful in its nobility and simple modernity."

Ernst traveled to Paris to meet his parents when they arrived in June 1938 and was also close by when they settled in London. Together with his sister Anna, he found the house in Maresfield Gardens, where he had an elevator installed, which Freud needed to reach his bedroom.

At the time of his father's death, he was, with Martin and Anna, appointed an executor of the will. He ran the corporation that was formed to manage the rights for Freud's work and, with Lucy's assistance, worked on all the major Freud publications that were to help popularize his work and psychoanalysis in general after the 1950s: his correspondence with Wilhelm Fliess (1950a), his general correspondence (1960a), and so on. Shortly before his death, in late 1969, he had the pleasure to be given by Franz Jung, also an architect, the letters that had been kept by his father "in a document box covered with linen cloth, on which had been written in large capital letters, 'FREUD LETTERS."'

Ernst Freud died on April 7, 1970. After his death, Ilse Grubrich-Simitis was asked to complete the pictorial biography he had planned to publish and on which he had worked with Lucy. The work finally appeared in 1976 as Sigmund Freud: His Life in Pictures and Words.

Alain de Mijolla

See also: Berggasse 19, Wien IX; Berliner Psychoanalytisches Institut; Freud-Bernays, Martha; Sigmund Freud Copyrights Limited.


Berthelsen, Detlef. (1989). Alltag bei Familie Freud. Die Erinnerungen der Paula Fichtl. Hamburg: Hoffman & Campe.

Gay, Peter. (1988). Freud: A life for our time. London-Melbourne: Dent.

Jones, Ernest. (1959). Free associations. Memories of a psycho-analyst. London, New York: Basic Books.

Roazen, Paul. (1993). Meeting Freud's family. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

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Freud, Ernst (1892-1970)

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