The eighteen-volume Gesammelte Werke, along with an unnumbered supplemental volume (the Nachtragsband ) constitutes the second complete edition of Freud's work in German.
In 1939, having emigrated to London, Freud founded the Imago Publishing Company as a successor to the Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag, shut down by the Nazis. The chief purpose was to preserve the Viennese Gesammelte Schriften, duly modified, as a new Gesammelte Werke. Work on the project was begun as early as the fall of 1938, with Freud participating.
At the outset, the editorial committee consisted of Anna Freud, Edward Bibring, and Ernst Kris. Volumes 1 through 17 appeared between 1940 and 1952, which is to say after Freud's death. Bibring and Kris migrated to the United States in 1940-41, to be replaced by Willi Hoffer and Otto Isakower, who served as co-editors for every volume except 9 and 15, both of which were published in 1944. Marie Bonaparte's collaboration was acknowledged in every volume. Volume 18, planned as a Gesamtregister or General Index, was prepared by Lilla Veszy-Wagner, but before the manuscript could be sent to the printer, Imago Publishing Company went bankrupt in 1961. When S. Fischer Verlag of Frankfurt acquired the rights to Freud's works in 1960, they also came into possession of the remaining stock of the seventeen volumes of the Gesammelte Werke and the manuscript of the Gesamtregister. After a thorough-going revision, Volume 18, the very first general index to Freud's work, finally appeared in 1968. In 1987 the Nachtragsband, edited by Angela Richards with the assistance of Ilse Grubrich-Simitis, brought together all of Freud's psychological and psychoanalytical texts that for one reason or another had not been included in the first seventeen volumes of the Gesammelte Werke.
Like the Gesammelte Schriften, the first seventeen volumes of the Gesammelte Werke cannot be described as a critical edition of Freud's work. Editorial comment is reduced to the bare minimum. In contrast to the approach of the Schriften, the contents of the Gesammelte Werke are ordered chronologically. Volume 2 and 3 reproduce the eighth edition of The Interpretation of Dreams, including all the added material.
The Nachtragsband, however, is supplied with a serious editorial apparatus and may be considered a critical edition. It is organized by theme, but its overall arrangement is chronological.
The main aim of the editors of Volumes 1-17, working from London during and immediately after the Second World War, was to make Freud's work available in its original language through the book trade. The editorial shortcomings resulted in part from the difficult conditions under which this second edition of Freud's collected works had to be produced; in light of the circumstances the undertaking constituted a remarkable rescue operation. The Nachtragsband eked out the set of texts in Volume 1-17 by adding writings that had come to light later, some of them lacking even in the Standard Edition, as for example the "Übersicht derÜbertragungsneurosen" (Overview of the transference neuroses) of 1915. Some texts, among them the "Project for a Scientific Psychology" and Freud's original notes on the "Rat Man" case, appeared in the Nachtragsband in freshly corrected transcriptions.
Until such time, then, as a historico-critical edition is produced, the Gesammelte Werke and the Nachtragsband together constitute the most comprehensive presentation of Freud's work available in its original language.
See also: Gesammelte Schriften ; Imago Publishing Company.
Grubrich-Simitis, Ilse. (1987). Einleitung. In Sigmund Freud, GW, Nachtragsband, Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer.
——. (1993). Back to Freud 's texts. Making silent documents speak. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.