How Mexican labor unions tried to rescue Freud from the Nazis

Anar writes, "Writer and scholar Rubén Gallo sheds light on a fascinating, obscure bit of history: After the press reported Freud’s troubles in Nazi Austria — his daughter was briefly detained by the Gestapo and he was under pressure by friends to flee — several activists and Mexican labor unions (including the Union of Workers in the Graphic Arts, the Union of Education Workers, the Union of Metal Miners, and the Union of Mexican Electricians) urged then-Mexican president Lázaro Cárdenas to bring Freud to Mexico."

Though the campaign to bring Freud to Mexico came to nothing, Cárdenas expressed his outrage at Germany’s takeover of Austria: he instructed his representative at the Society of Nations in Geneva to file a formal protest against the Anschluss. Mexico was the only country to do so — an expression of solidarity postwar Austria recognized by naming a small plaza by the Danube canal “Mexikoplatz.”

The Red Aid campaign was not the last time Mexico would be considered a potential haven for Austrian Jews. In November 1938, after Freud had finally left Vienna and settled in London, Princess Marie Bonaparte came up with a plan to save European Jews. She wrote to Bullitt and proposed that the United States government purchase Baja California from Mexico and establish a Jewish state on that territory. Freud, she added, liked the idea. Bullitt sent her a polite, evasive reply, but the princess — accustomed to having the last word — wrote directly to Roosevelt, urging him to consider her proposal. Freud was bemused by this fantastic campaign, but told the princess he could not take her “colonial plans” seriously.

Mexico's Little-Known Attempt to Save Freud From the Nazis [Rubén Gallo/MIT Press Reader]