I’ve mentioned many times that this blog is a cousin magnet. I don’t even have to try to attract relatives; they just gravitate towards the Kornmehl name. This is a wonderful thing, especially when I’ve been too busy to blog and I can entice one of the cousins to write a guest post.
A brief note. You’ll be hearing more soon about Lary Ecker, my third cousin once removed who lives in Israel (and no, his first name is not a typo; I’ll have to ask him what happened to the other “r.” Perhaps it eloped with the “n” in Fany Frankel*; see chart below). Lary has been an avid supporter of this blog, and has sent it to several people, including to his third cousin Eva Ryten, who wrote the following post.
by Eva Ryten
19 Berggasse, site of the Freud Museum, is one of Vienna’s many iconic tourist sites. It’s the address of the home out of which Sigmund Freud practised medicine for many years. It is less known that another Viennese Jew who was even more renowned than Sigmund Freud before WWI lived at Berggasse 19. This was Victor Adler, founder of the Austrian Social Democratic Party.
Adler’s political accomplishments are far too numerous to go into here [EJ: for more details, see here]. Suffice it to say, he was named Foreign Minister in the First Republic of Austria, formed at the end of the war in 1918 as a result of the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He died the night before he was to assume his new functions. A large statue of Adler dominates the square in front of the Austrian Parliament and he is buried in the Ehrengrӓber section of the Wiener Zentralfriedhof (Vienna Central Cemetery) – the section honouring distinguished people, not the Jewish section.
Another Family–And Freud–Link
What has Victor Adler to do with Edie’s posts regarding her family’s butcher shop at 19 Berggasse? I am a distant relative of Victor Adler, AND, as I learned recently, an even more distant relative of Edie herself.
Victor Adler lived at 19 Berggasse before Freud did, when it was a single family home. The Adlers moved out when the home was torn down in 1889; a very elegant fin-de-siècle Viennese apartment building was put up in its place in 1891. It is into the new apartment building that the Freuds moved.
There are so many connections between Victor Adler and Sigmund Freud that it is difficult to know where to begin. Victor was four years older than Sigmund. He was born in Prague into a very well-off family and moved to Vienna as a young child. Sigmund Freud’s parents also moved to Vienna from a small town in Moravia when Sigmund was still a young boy.
Both Adler and Freud attended gymnasium (selective secondary school leading to university education) in Vienna; both studied medicine at the University of Vienna and both interned at what became the renowned Meynert clinic. Both men specialized in psychiatry. Several years of treating the poor of Vienna led to Victor Adler’s interest — and subsequent successful career — in politics.
The Non-Freudian Duel
The social lives of the two men overlapped also. For an idea of this, one need only turn to the catalogue of the Freud Museum, which refers to the numbered photographs and documents on display.
Item 31. Next to a picture of Heinrich Braun, the text reads:
Heinrich Braun, a friend of Freud’s in his youth and brother-in-law of Dr. Victor Adler, one of the founding members of the Austrian Social Democratic Party.
Braun, who was born in 1854, died in Berlin in February 1927. In an October 1927 letter to Julie Braun-Vogelstein, Braun’s second wife, Freud wrote:
I know that I made Heinrich Braun’s acquaintance during the first school year on the day of the first annual school report, and that we soon became inseparable friends. The last memorable encounter we had may have taken place in 1883 or 1884. At that time he came to Vienna and invited me to lunch at the house of his brother-in-law, Victor Adler. I still remember that he was a vegetarian at the time and that I got a glimpse of little Fritz, who was between one and two years old. It strikes me as strange that this took place in the same rooms as those in which I have been living for the past thirty-six years.
The catalogue notes that Freud’s home and medical practice were located in the new building of 1891, while Adler lived in the house that had been demolished in 1889, so the visit wasn’t in the exact rooms, but it was in the exact location.
Item 49 is a photograph of Victor Adler and his wife Emma (nee Braun). The catalogue says it was taken in the summer of 1886 on the grounds of the house that was demolished in 1889. (In the photograph, Victor looks a good deal older than 34, which would have been his age if the photograph was taken in 1886, so I have my doubts about the date.) The following catalogue text was excerpted from Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, 1900:
There was a discussion in a German students’ club on the relation of philosophy to the natural sciences. I was a green youngster; full of materialistic theories and thrust myself forward to give expression to an extremely one-sided point of view. Thereupon someone who was my senior and my superior; someone who has long since then shown his ability as a leader of men and an organizer of large groups…gave us a good talking to: he too, he told us, had fed swine in his youth…. There was a general uproar and I was called upon from many sides to withdraw my remarks, but I refused to do so. The man I had insulted was too sensible to look upon this as a challenge and let the affair drop.
The person described by Freud in this anecdote was none other than Victor Adler. I do not doubt that this incident, recounted by Freud decades after it took place, is the source of the widely reported rumour that Freud and Adler fought a duel during their student days. They did both belong to dueling fraternities, but neither had a scar on his face. I have always found it impossible to imagine either of these remarkable gentlemen fighting a duel. I think these words from Freud clear up that business, which is why I refer to this matter as a rumor rather than an established fact.
Eva Ryten is the granddaughter of Melanie Adler, who was married to Markus David Frankel.* Markus was the son of Moshe Frankel, the brother of Fany (Frankel) Kornmehl.
- Catalogue of Sigmund Freud Museum, Verlag Christian Brandstӓtter, English edition, 1995
- Allan Janik and Stephen Toulmin, Wittgenstein’s Vienna, Simon and Schuster, 1973
- Lucian O. Meysels, Victor Adler, Die Biographie, Amalthea, 1997
- William M. Johnston, The Austrian Mind, An Intellectual and Social history 1848 to 1938, University of California Press, 1972
*Note to Anna Redsand, who wrote a biography of Viktor Frankl and a guest post here: Eva Ryten says that, as far as she knows, the Markus Frankel to whom she is related is no relation to Viktor Frankl. Now that would have been quite the coincidence!