Muriel Gardiner and Her Legacy

Online lecture with Prof Dr Carmen Birkle, in honour of Holocaust Memorial Day.

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27 January, 2022, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Pay what you can.

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Code Name Mary

All registrants will receive their unique joining link after booking. All registrants will receive access to the recording 24 hours after the event, which will be available to catch up for 1 month. This event will be held as a webinar and participants will not be visible.


The Freud Museum is proud to welcome Prof Dr Carmen Birkle for this special lecture on Holocaust Memorial Day, exploring the extraordinary life of Muriel Gardiner, a psychoanalyst and activist against the fascist regime in 1930s Austria.

When the American author Lillian Hellman’s short sketch “Julia” was included in her autobiographical trilogy, Pentimento (1973) and adapted for the screen in 1977 (starring Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave), Muriel Gardiner’s friends immediately believed that Gardiner was Julia. She had been portrayed in Pentimento as Hellman’s intimate childhood friend even though the two women had never met. It was then that Gardiner decided to write her own autobiography to set the record straight.

Gardiner had spent about twelve years in Vienna, Austria, during the turbulent interwar years of the 1930s (1926-1938) until the Anschluss but then had to leave Austria with her daughter Connie. They were later joined by Joseph Buttinger, whom she married in Paris.

Hellman’s film Julia focuses on Gardiner’s time as an underground freedom fighter before the Anschluss but misrepresents many of the actual events. Gardiner’s autobiography Code Name “Mary” gives insight into the wealthy American’s struggle to study medicine (from 1932 onward) in preparation of becoming a psychotherapist and narrates her life as an activist who supported the Austrian underground resistance.

In this talk, Dr Birkle will shed light on Gardiner’s medical interests and psychoanalytic circles as well as on her underground activities and her liaison with Joseph Buttinger in 1930s Vienna. We will also look at Lillian Hellman’s rather dubious misrepresentation of Gardiner’s attempts to save the lives of as many (mostly Jewish) people as possible, for which Gardiner received the Austrian Cross of Honor, as “a recognition of [her] dedication to freedom.”


Carmen Birkle is Professor of North American Literary and Cultural Studies at Philipps-Universität Marburg. She was president, vice president, executive director, and international delegate of the German Association for American Studies. Currently, she is the treasurer of the European Association for American Studies. She is Dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at Philipps-Universität (2017-23). She is the author of two monographs – Women’s Stories of the Looking Glass (1996) and Migration—Miscegenation—Transculturation (2004) – and of numerous articles and (co-)editor of 15 volumes of essays and special issues of journals. She is General (Co-)Editor of the journal Amerikastudien / American Studies (open access). She is currently at work on a monograph situated at the intersection of American literature, culture, and medicine in the 19th and early 20th centuries. She also contributes to a larger interdisciplinary project on “Geschlecht—Macht—Staat.”


27 January, 2022
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Pay what you can.
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