Trained as a neurologist, Freud developed psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychoses, after studying with the French expert in hypnosis and hysteria, Jean-Martin Charcot, from 1885-1886. He published his ground-breaking The Interpretation of Dreams in 1899, and by 1902 he had acquired a number of followers who formed the Wednesday Psychological Society – later known as the Viennese Analytic Society – a weekly gathering in which physicians discussed psychoanalysis. Remembered as the father of psychoanalysis, his monumental works include Civilization and Its Discontents and Beyond the Pleasure Principle. With his students and colleagues, Freud not only shaped the future of psychoanalysis, but the very consciousness of modernity.
Our letter mentions German journalist Maximilian Harden (born Felix Ernst Witkowski, 1861-1927) who was at the center of a scandal from 1907-1909 after he exposed widespread homosexuality in German Emperor Wilhelm II’s inner circle. Harden was publisher of Die Zunkunft (The Future) in which he criticized the Kaiser and in April 1907 outed Prince Philip of Eulenburg as a homosexual. Eulenburg was Wilhelm II’s closest friend and at the center of the homosexual “Liebenberg [‘Love Mount’] Round Table” within the Emperor’s entourage. Another member of the circle, Count Dietrich von Hülsen-Haeseler, an infantry general, attempted to cover up the scandal only to drop dead from a heart attack in November 1908 while dressed as a ballerina and dancing for the Kaiser during a hunting retreat. The ensuing attempted cover up of that bizarre event only drew more attention to the widening scandal. The series of courts martial against accused homosexual officers and libel trials against Harden is referred to as the Harden–Eulenburg affair and was the biggest scandal of the time, often compared in importance to the trial of Oscar Wilde.
Austrian satirist and journalist Karl Kraus (1874-1936) was a close friend of Harden but criticized his baroque writing style and, later, the public airing of the private details of Eulenburg and his associates. He voiced his disapproval in an obituary Maximilian Harden. Eine Erledigung (A Settlement). At the time of our letter, the recipient, Halbert, was the editor of the monthly periodical Der Brief.
A warm, personal letter mentioning the “disintegration of marriage in our days” and alluding to a homosexual scandal making the rounds through the German and Austro-Hungarian empires. Normal folding with two file holes in the left margin affecting two words; some minor restoration, otherwise in excellent condition.