Sunday, December 28, 2014

Helene Rosenbach Deutsch

I've just learned about Przemysl-born Helene Deutsch in an email from a Polish journalist living in Vienna. Born Helene Rosenbach in 1884, she lead an extraordinary life.  After a brief affair with Polish socialist leader Herman Lieberman, she traveled to Vienna and joined Sigmund Freud's infamous Wednesday night meetings of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, first becoming his assistant and later, colleague. She moved to Boston in 1936 and died in 1982 leaving behind pioneering work in woman's psychoanalysis and psychology.
I'm a Polish journalist living in Vienna. I have a very close relation to Przemysl, the hometown of my mother and my summer stays during my childhood (not so remote, whatsoever!).

I wanted to draw your attention to a fascinating biography of Helen Deutsch. Born in Przemysl, she was Sigmund Freud's long time assistant and later successful authoress and psychoanalytic in the US. Her autobiography "Confrontations with Myself", containing a description of her childhood environment was published originally in 1973, got translated to Polish only in 2008. This book was greeted with much interests and brought anew attention to Przemysl's Jewish past. This is also when I realized that the house Helene Deutsch would grew up in (described in her memoir) , was the same house that the family of my mother lived!

Also in Vienna the biography of Helene Deutsch is again brought to light. In 2000 a city park was named after her. In 2008 in the in the campus yard of the main university of Vienna, an artistic intervention took place. Its aim was to change the male-dominated image of this institution. The plates with the names of female scientists were put on the 154 busts of their (male) famous colleagues, a.o. Helene Deutsch was remembered.

For some time I've tried to document Deutsch's biography and those latest signs of commemoration, ie running the blog: I had the privilege to get in touch with Dr. Sanford Gifford (1918-2013), who was one of the closest friends and colleagues of the Deutsch family, after they moved to the USA. I also know about an extensive collection of private documents which is stored at Harvard University. It contains Deutsch's notes and research on Przemysl. Attached to this email I'm sending you some excerpts that I could receive - should you once be interested in exploring this archive, I'd love to help you!

There are many other biographies linked to Przemysl (and Vienna as well), a.o. Karl Duldig or Franz Marek , but anyway, I'm keeping my finger crossed for your very valuable work! I hope there is not only the past, but also the future for the Jewish life in Przemysl!

Warm greetings from Vienna,

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