Freud’s Butcher, the Poem

Freud’s Butcher, the Poem

As I mentioned in my introduction to the Genealogy section, I’ve trotted out the fact that I am the grand-niece of Sigmund Freud’s butcher for a long time, especially to people I thought might be interested. Two of those people were Charles Bernstein  and Susan Bee, who wrote and illustrated a poem about the topic that appears in a small volume called The Nude Formalism (1989). 

Click on the poem image to enlarge

I was always tickled by this poem, although I frown on the use of my formal name, Edith, and find the linking of “Jarolim” with “frozen” disconcerting. The poem does use the correct pronunciation of my name, Juh-ROH-lim, for the off-rhyme however. In case you were wondering.

As I’ve subsequently discovered, Frau Freud didn’t keep kosher, as the poem posits, though she bought kosher meat — an important distinction. But that doesn’t undercut the sagacity of the last two lines.

Happy Meals at Dachau?

I hadn’t been in touch with Charles and Susan for a while, so I wrote asking for permission to reproduce the poem — and also for pictures of Charles and Susan. Susan took the one of Charles that you see above at the Dachau train station in May 2004. Charles took the one of Susan, below, when they got to the concentration camp.

“Work will set you free”

Yes, there is a McDonald’s near Dachau.

To me, it’s not nearly as offensive as the fact that Dachau existed in the first place. I don’t think a site that is itself a desecration can be further desecrated.

(Art)Work Will Set You Free

…or at least it will show that not everything was destroyed.

Until Susan and I started corresponding about “Freud’s Butcher” the poem last week, I wasn’t aware that her father, Sigmund Laufer — yes, another Sigmund — was a graphic artist who escaped the Holocaust. I’ve linked to Susan’s introduction to the story of her father’s life and to the prints he made about the Holocaust here.  Be sure to take a look at the pdf of Susan’s power point show. In addition to the Holocaust prints, it highlights several wonderful photographs of Sigmund Laufer and his family, such as the one on the top of this post, taken on the day Sigi started school in Berlin in 1926.

And no, there is nothing graphic in the prints or the photos, I promise.  I’m keeping this blog a Holocaust horror-free zone and that extends to the links I post (though I haven’t looked beyond the first page of the Dachau link, above, so no guarantees there).


10 Responses to Freud’s Butcher, the Poem

  1. Kristine says:

    It just gets even more interesting. How brilliant your name and story have been made part of a published poem. That makes you pretty important, I’d say.

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      I’m not going to lie — I think it’s pretty darn cool, even with the “frozen” rhyme ;-). I’m just going to ride those Freud coattails for all they’re worth!

  2. cool…

    from what I recall, took a tram, a train and a bus to get to Dachau, so McD’s is at least a bus ride away

  3. fyi, my story about my trip to Dachau is not what one would expect, not icky.

  4. Lisa Cooper Anderson says:

    Just a quick note to say I am enjoying the feast of this expansive new blog, which seems to breathe out to so many more and more other important and interesting places. So glad you are doing this!

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      Thank you, Lisa. I thought of you when I was writing this poetry post and wondered if you had come by. I’m glad you’re enjoying this.

  5. Leo says:

    Hi Edith,
    My parents blessed me with “Leonardus Bernardus” – they have catholic roots – which I am constantly reminded of in Denmark. In Holland just “Leo” worked just fine, but in Denmark where I live you are sort of obliged to use your real and full name. Everywhere. Getting registered, buying a refrigerator, it doesn’t matter, your identity is always checked. I tried to refuse and suffice with “Leo”, but to no avail. If I am not giving them the whole LB, I don’t exist. On the bright side, it works fine with tele-sales: “Da Vinci? No, he is not living here. Good-bye.”

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      I’ve got to admit that Leonardus Bernardus is worse than Edith! And yes, that’s a good way to sniff out telemarketers. If someone asks for Edith (or Eddie — a common mistake), I know that they don’t actually know me and tell them there is no such person in the house.

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