Thanks to generous support provided by private sponsors and the International Salzburg Association, the Literature Archive Salzburg was able to purchase 47 letters and postcards from Stefan Zweig to Sigmund Freud and one letter from Zweig to Anna Freud at Christie’s auction house in London in November 2023. This is another important new acquisition that boasts numerous links to documents already stored in the archive. Written between 1920 and 1939, the letters give evidence of the long period of acquaintance between Zweig and Freud, dating back to 1908: in that year, Zweig had introduced himself to Freud by sending him one of his books, and Freud had responded, thanking for the gift. When Zweig gave up his home in Salzburg, he presented all of Freud’s letters written to himself up to 1932 to the predecessor institution of what is today the National Library of Israel. Zweig’s letters to Freud , on the other hand – the set now acquired by the Literature Archive – were previously sold in June 1989, also at Christie’s in London. Freud’s post-1932 letters, in turn, were offered as several lots at Sotheby’s in London in May 2015; today, they are probably dispersed among various owners. Copies of Freud’s letters and original letters by Zweig to Freud’s wife Martha and daughter Anna survive at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Twenty-five years Zweig’s senior, Sigmund Freud was one of a number of well-established personages who exerted great influence over Stefan Zweig’s career as a writer (other notable instances include Arthur Schnitzler, Ellen Key and Émile Verhaeren). In later years, Zweig would frequently refer to Freud’s work in discussing his own literary productions. He had not, however, studied Freud’sscientific methodology or the details of psychoanalysis in any depth: rather, Freud’s significance for Zweig lay in his willingness to identify psychological conflicts and problems at all and to address them outside specialist circles.

Having thus established contact, Zweig regularly supplied Freud with his latest publications; a number of such volumes with authorial inscriptions have survived in Freud’s estate. While Zweig made several public statements about Freud in later years, Freud was more reticent in this respect. However, the very first year of Freud’s journal Imago, founded in 1912, ran an enthusiastic review, by the psychoanalyst Theodor Reik, of Zweig’s volume of short stories, Erstes Erlebnis (First Experience).

Even after Zweig had relocated to Salzburg following the First World War, he kept in touch with Freud in Vienna. He continued to send him his most recent works and received letters of reply which show how deeply Freud engaged with each and every one of them. In October 1920, for example, Freud wrote to thank Zweigfor his volume on Three Masters, specifically praising the essays on Honoré de Balzac and Charles Dickens while disagreeing with Zweig’s interpretation of Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Beyond the correspondence, Zweig also paid several visits to Freud’s quarters in Vienna’s Berggasse. On occasion, he would bring along guests whom he would introduce to Freud: in May 1924 he was accompanied by his old friend Romain Rolland, while in June 1933 Zweig arranged a meeting between Freud and H. G. Wells.

Throughout the years, the mutual appreciation of both men is apparent in personal gifts as well as in more public signals. Zweig’s 1925 book Der Kampf mit dem Dämon: Hölderlin - Kleist - Nietzsche (Battling the Demon: Hölderlin – Kleist – Nietzsche) was dedicated to Freud; a year earlier, Freud had presented Zweig with the nine-page manuscript of his speech Der Dichter und das Phantasieren (Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming), to add to the writer’s manuscript collection. Further, Zweig unsuccessfully attempted to persuade his publisher Anton Kippenberg to include a few of Freud’s shorter texts within a volume of the Insel-Bücherei series. This proposal, made in 1925, was possibly suggested by Freud’s 70th birthday, to be celebrated the following year. Ultimately, Zweig would compose a tribute for the occasion, Der Vater der Psychoanalyse: Prof. Freud zu seinem 70. Geburtstag (The Father of Psychoanalysis: For Professor Freud on his 70th Birthday), published in the Münchener Neuesten Nachrichten and in Vienna’s Neue Freien Presse .

When the psychoanalyst Heinrich Meng approached Zweig in the autumn of 1927, proposing Freudfor the Nobel Prize, Zweig was quick to produce a lengthy list of further potential sponsors. He insisted that the prize be sought in appreciation of Freud’s scientific achievements, in the field of medicine, and not for the literary merits of his work. Indeed, despite a large number of prominent backers, Freud was not awarded the Nobel Prize in that or any other year.

The relationship hit a bump when Freud, strolling through Vienna in late 1929, happened to spot a placard advertising a lecture by Charles Maylan, bearing a promotional quote by Zweig. Maylan was the author of a book entitled Freuds tragischer Komplex. Eine Analyse der Psychoanalyse (Freud’s Tragic Complex: An Analysis of Psychoanalysis), in which he had spoken out decisively against Freudand his methods. Freud himself, in a letter to Zweig, called Maylan sa “malicious fool” and an “Aryan fanatic”, asking what he was to make of Zweig’s apparent endorsement for Maylan. In his reply, Zweig struggled to apologize: he admitted to having received the book from Maylan egiving it a perfunctory glance and writing a letter of thanks, which now had been quoted from without his permission.

This is about the time when Zweig began work on his book Die Heilung durch den Geist (Mental Healers), which was to contain a lengthy essay on Freud. This announcement did little to please the great psychologist, in spite of their acquaintance of more than twenty years. Not much later, when writing to Arnold Zweig, Freud erroneously addressed him as “Doctor” (his usual form of address when writing to Stefan Zweig) – an instance of parapraxis which he attributed to his irritation over Stefan Zweig’s writing project (and probably also the Maylanincident).

In composing his essay, Zweig invested an unusual amount of time and effort, consulting with people close to Freud so as to avoid even the slightest factual error. An early fragment of the text, published in 1931, has survived in the estate of his Salzburg secretary, Anna Meingast.

When Zweig published an article in the Pester Lloyd congratulating Freud on his 80th birthday in May 1936, he had already turned his back on Austria and had settled in London. After the “Anschluss”, the annexation of Austria into Germany in March 1938, Freud lived in the utmost danger from National Socialist terror. By early June, friends and supporters had succeeded in engineering his escape to Great Britain, where he likewise settled in London with his wife Martha and daughter Anna. In spite of his age and the advanced stage of his cancer, he regularly entertained Zweig at his home. It was during this period that Zweig brought along the young Salvador Dalí, who drew a portrait sketch of Freud on that occasion.

On 14 September 1939, barely two weeks after the outbreak of the Second World War, Zweig wrote to Freud: “We must stand firm now – it would be meaningless to die without first having witnessed the criminals’ descent into Hell.” This would be his last letter to Freud, receiving no response. Ten days later, on the morning of 24 September 1939, Zweig heard on the radio that Sigmund Freud had passed away the previous night. On 26 September 1939 he delivered a eulogyat London’s Golders Green Crematorium in which he re-emphasised his deep personal connection to the deceased: “Those who witnessed his final years found consolation during an hour of intimate conversation with him about the absurdity and madness of our times. During such hours, I often wished they could be shared with younger people so that, when we ourselves shall no longer be able to bear witness to the spiritual greatness of this man, they would be able to assert proudly: I have been in the presence of a truly wise man, I have known Sigmund Freud.”

As his diary reveals, Zweig began making notes for his speech only that very morning. These are probably the sheets captioned Worte am Sarge Siegmund[!] Freuds, preserved among his posthumous papers in Salzburg and Fredonia.