Exploring Freud’s Czech birthplace

By Jan Švábenický, Historian and Custodian of the Family House of Sigmund Freud in Příbor.

Sigmund Freud is often thought to have been Viennese, but he was actually born in what is now the Czech Republic.

Colour photograph or a two-storey house.

The Sigmund Freud Birthplace Museum in Příbor, Czech Republic. Photo: The Archive of Příbor City (Archiv Města Příbora).

The founder of psychoanalysis was born at 17 Zámečnická Street in Freiberg, Moravia (now Příbor, Czech Republic).

The house belonged to J. Zajíc, a locksmith who rented the first floor to Freud’s parents, Jakob Freud and his young wife Amalia.

It was here that Freud was born in 1856 and spent his early years.

The house is now a museum dedicated to the founder of psychoanalysis, attracting visitors from around the world.

The Freuds lived there for just three years, but it left an indelible impression.

Sigmund Freud retained strong memories of his early years and described them several times in his works. He recalled playing with other children in the nearby fields, and looked back on the region as an idyllic, pastoral setting.

“Deeply buried within me there still lives the happy child of Freiberg, the first-born son of a youthful mother, who received his first indelible impressions from this air, from this soil.”Sigmund Freud

He was nostalgic about the town, but his experiences there weren’t all happy.

This was also where his brother Julius was born in 1857, dying tragically the following year.

It was also in Freiberg that his father’s wool business collapsed, leaving the family almost destitute and forcing them to leave for Vienna.

The Freud family’s house in Příbor has been preserved as a museum.

Visitors can explore the rooms, one of which Freud was born in (unfortunately no one knows which one!).

The house and its connection to the Freud family is brought to life with an audio tour conceived as a story narrated by Sigmund Freud himself!

Interior of a room with framed prints on the walls.

Was this the room in which Sigmund Freud was born? Photo: The Archive of Příbor City (Archiv Města Příbora).

Although none of the objects from Freud’s childhood survived, fragments of various objects found during its renovation in 2006 are now on display.

Perhaps this is fitting given that fragments are all that remain of anyone’s memory of earliest childhood.

A key feature of the museum is a short film by Jaromír Hasoň about Freud’s life and connections to his birth town. In Freudian spirit, the film blends stylistic documentary with elements of fictional narrative.

Other features on display include:

  • A series of caricatures of psychoanalytic predicaments by Czech animator, artist and caricaturist Vladimír Jiránek, illustrating the relationship between humour and the unconscious.
  • A library of books by and about Sigmund Freud
  • A model and proposal for plans to create a Sigmund Freud Centre – documents that remain as wishes and dreams.

The museum does have one object that belonged to Freud himself: an 1868 book called The Animal Life of the Alpine World: Nature Views and Animal Drawings from the Swiss Mountains by Friedrich von Tschudi. It was presented to the museum by Freud’s great-grandson David Freud.

Freud is an important part of Příbor’s cultural heritage.

Monument and bust of Sigmund Freud by sculptors František Navrátil and Zdeněk Makovský. Photo by Stanislava Slováková.

Not far from the house, in front of the Town Hall, is a monument and bust of Sigmund Freud by sculptors František Navrátil and Zdeněk Makovský. It was unveiled in 1969, in an event that included Josef Švábenický, a prominent Czech teacher, cultural activist, reciter, theater dramaturgist and director.

Every year, the town holds an art competition entitled ‘My Dream’ for children and students. The competition was founded in 1996 by schoolteacher Marie Šupová, and is still going strong!

The Příbor Society of Sigmund Freud was founded in 1990, and organises social and cultural activities, conferences and events related to Sigmund Freud. Its first chairman was historian and researcher Jiří Jurok, followed by the director of Příbor’s Masaryk gymnasium, Jaromír Štěrba. Today it is led by Marie Šupová.

Text by Jan Švábenický, Historian and Custodian of the Family House of Sigmund Freud.

I thank very much to Stanislava Slováková for the photo.

The Family House of Sigmund Freud is part of Department of Culture and Tourism of the City office of Příbor. The Director of this department is Iveta Busková.

The Family House of Sigmund Freud is located in Příbor, Czech Republic.

It is open Tuesday-Sunday from 9am-5pm (1 April – 30 September) and 9am-4pm (1 October – 31 March).


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