My New Film: How Sigmund Freud escaped from the Nazis

March 21, 2014 at 5:31 pm Leave a comment

The Escape Of Sigmund Freud

A film by David Cohen

I’m preparing a new film which tells the story of how the world-famous creator of psychoanalysis managed to leave Nazi-occupied Vienna protected and helped by the Nazi who was meant to make his life a misery.  Anton Sauerwald ignored Berlin’s orders and gave Freud and his family assistance, much to their relief and amazement.

This is a true story based on a book by David Cohen (The Escape Of Sigmund Freud) published in the UK, US, Japan, Brazil and other countries.

Freud managed to leave Vienna with sixteen members of his family, and his overseer, Sauerwald, arranged to sell some of Freud’s art collection to pay for the extortionate exit visas. He then sent Freud’s possessions to England by lorry, and later visited him in London (1938). On that visit Freud asked Sauerwald if he could drive his Viennese surgeon to London to operate on Freud’s cancer of the jaw. But the most striking part of this strange relationship between the second most famous Jew in the world (Einstein was the first) and Sauerwald, a committed Nazi, is the fact that Sauerwald found the Freud family’s hidden foreign bank books. If his superiors knew they existed, Freud would have been immediately arrested.

Sauerwald kept the bank books to himself, never reported them, and gave them back to Freud, without asking for a penny for himself.

After the war Sauerwald was arrested and tried for stealing from the Freuds. He asked Anna Freud to write a letter explaining what had happened. Perhaps influenced by the fact that her four aunts (Freud’s elderly sisters) all died in concentration camps, Anna hesitated for some time before finally writing a letter which declared Sauerwald’s innocence.

The events the Freud family endured are alarming and terrifying, yet strange and surprising twists of character and fate take place, leading almost to a sense of disbelief. Could this really have happened? Did a deep-dyed Nazi actually help Freud escape? Many Holocaust stories defy belief, but this one is different. It exposes the contradictory nature of the human mind, and it seems in keeping for this to happen to Freud, whose fame derived from studying the mind.

David Suchet is attached to play Freud, and there are other great parts. If we succeed, The Escape of Sigmund Freud could become one of the great Shoah films of our time, showing the horrific change that fell upon the Jews of Europe once the Nazis took control of their homelands. This is a sad, terrifying and moving story, but it still has moments of dry humour, since it was Freud’s sense of gallows humour which kept him sane.

Freud’s escape shows how complicated relations between Jews and Nazis could become. Who could imagine that a strange friendship like this could develop?  Although Freud was world famous for understanding the human mind, he was at a loss to explain why Sauerwald helped him, and Sauerwald too could not understand it.

The film will be shot largely hand-held, so that the sense of actuality will be preserved. The intention is to help the audience see the events unfolding in front of their eyes as events happening to the Freud family, and not as an ‘historical’ film.

It is really an amazing story and I am looking forward to making it.

Advertisements

Entry filed under: Thoughts, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

A gun to the head is wordless teaching The Mystery Of Buddhism

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


The Blog That Fell From The Sky

Reflections on an age of anxiety.

Categories


%d bloggers like this: