Freud, (Jean) Martin (1889-1967)

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FREUD, (JEAN) MARTIN (1889-1967)

Martin Freud, a lawyer and the eldest son of Sigmund Freud, was born on December 6, 1889, in Vienna, and died in 1967 in London. He was named Jean Martin in honor of Charcot. Writing to Freud, Charcot exclaimed, "Best wishes; may he be welcomed; may the Evangelist and the generous Centurion be propitious for him; may their names, which are now his as well, bring him happiness!" Later he dropped "Jean" from his name. Sigmund Freud considered his son Martin to be "very intelligent" and in his letters to Wilhelm Fliess, along with news about childhood illness, he made several references to the poems the boy wrote between the ages of eight and ten. He was "a strange bird; sensitive and good-natured in his personal relationships, completely wrapped up in a humorous phantasy world of his own." (letter dated July 3rd, 1899, 1985c, p358). This lightheartedness would remain with him all his life.

After completing his "matura" (equivalent to the first year of college) in 1908, he entered the university to study law. An enthusiastic sportsman, "he had his face cut in a duel," as Freud informed Carl Gustav Jung on July 7, 1909. He was also politically engaged and had joined a Zionist movement, the Kadimah.

In 1910 he joined the Imperial horse artillery as a so-called one-year volunteer. In January 1911 he broke his leg in a skiing accident. When the First World War broke out, he immediately volunteered for the artillery service and was sent to Galicia in January 1915. After being slightly wounded in August 1915, he was soon promoted to lieutenant but was taken prisoner, something his uneasy family didn't learn about until after the armistice. "Martin's captivity has sapped my moral. Do you know anyone in Genoa? He is being held at San Benigno inferiore," Freud wrote to Ernest Jones on February 18, 1919.

He was released shortly thereafter, and Freud wrote to Pastor Pfister on October 5, "My son Martin, barely back from his captivity in Italy, has made himself a captive again through his engagement to the young lady of his choice, the daughter of a Viennese lawyer." On December 7, 1919, he married Ernestine Drucker (Esti, 1896-1980), with whom he had two children, Anton Walter Freud, born April 3, 1921, and Myriam Sophie Loewenstein-Freud, born August 6, 1924.

Because of his backgroundhe had a law degree and was working in a bankhe became increasingly involved in Freud's investments and helped him to manage his books. When the retirement of Adolf Joseph Storfer in 1931 revealed the poor financial situation of the Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag, Martin took control and with his father's help appealed to the international community to obtain the necessary funds for its survival. But in 1936, after the Nazis had come to power in Germany, they sequestered the firm's publications and shortly after the Anschluss did the same in Vienna, where Martin was troubled by the Gestapo.

Family affairs went badly, for Martin had several extramarital relations (including a very ambiguous relationship with an American patient of Freud, Dr. Edith Jackson), which his wife didn't discover until shortly before their departure from Austria on May 14, 1938.

His wife remained in France with their daughter, while Martin went on to London, shortly before his parents. His life there was not simple. From July to November 1940 he was interned as a "foreign enemy" in a camp near Liverpool, Huyton Camp, under terrible conditions. Freud, in his will, had made Ernst, Martin, and Anna the executors of his estate, but by 1946 an organization, which was run for many years by Ernst, was created to ensure the survival of his work and his memory in the field of psychoanalysis. Martin had many jobs and ended up running a smoke shop near the British Museum. In 1958 he published, against Anna's advice, his book of memoirs, Sigmund Freud: Man and Father, which remains one of the primary sources for all biographers of Freud. He died on April 25, 1967, at the age of seventy-seven.

His wife Esti managed to escape France in 1940 with her daughter Sophie. They left Nice, where brother-in-law Olivier Freud lived, and traveled to Morocco, where they boarded a ship for the United States. She began a practice as a speech pathologist in the United States, where she lived until her death in 1980. She and Martin were never divorced.

Alain de Mijolla

See also: Berggasse 19, Wien IX; First World War: The effect on the development of psychoanalysis; Freud-Bernays, Martha; Imago Publishing Company; Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag; Lampl, Hans; Sigmund Freud Copyrights Limited.


Freud, Sigmund. (1985c). The complete letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess 1887-1904 (Jeffrey M. Masson, Ed. and Trans.). Cambridge, MA, London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Freud, Martin. (1958). Sigmund Freud: Man and father. New York: J. Aronson.

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.