Pribor begins restoration of Freud's original home

Sigmund Freud

The North Moravian town of Pribor has begun restoring the childhood home of one of its most famous sons, the founder of modern psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. Freud, of Austrian-Jewish descent, was born there in 1856 and this year, in May, the town will celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth.

150 years ago Sigmund Freud was born in what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today's Czech Republic and in May his native town, Pribor, will join Vienna and London in celebrating his legacy. In Pribor, that has meant, above all, restoring the home that belonged to Freud's parents, a project estimated at around 4.5 million crowns, the equivalent of almost 200, 000 US dollars. I spoke with Milada Podolska of Pribor's Town Hall to find out more about the project underway, and asked her how difficult preparations had been.

"Basically, there have been two areas in which the town of Pribor has been involved: one, the preparation of celebrations and events in the spring, and another, the reconstruction of Freud's home - which involved finding the necessary funds. It wasn't at all easy. His family's property was only re-obtained by Pribor last year, when it was bought back from a private owner. As a result it is only now that it has been declared a cultural heritage site. We missed out on EU funding, though. Originally, we hoped to turn the home into a wider centre - where symposiums, for example, could be held. In the end, we had to downscale our plans. The main emphasis now, has been to faithfully reconstruct the property to appear, as much as possible, as it did back in 1856."

Milada Podolska does say the town still hopes to gain EU funding in the future; now though, organisers have been concentrating on preparations for the spring. A monograph on Freud's connection to Pribor, for example, will be published, and this February, the Czech Post will issue a commemorative stamp. Then, at the end of May, following the anniversary of Freud's birth, a series of delegations will visit the site of his home, as well as the Czech president.

"All year we'll be preparing for the event, to make more people aware where of Freud's legacy including where he was from. We are now in contact and cooperation with museums in London and Vienna and hope it will have a positive impact. The event is also important for Pribor in terms of boosting tourism: unemployment here remains high, at 11 percent. It may sound a little crude, but celebrating Sigmund Freud is important for Pribor for economic reasons as well. We need an added boost."

Freud of course only spent three years in Pribor before he moved with his parents to Vienna. But, he referred to the town later in his writing and one can say they were certainly three "formative" years.