David Oppenheim was a classical scholar, a member of Freud's inner circle, and a close friend of the psychoanalyst Alfred Adler. He was also a victim of the Holocaust, and until his grandson, the philosopher Peter Singer, discovered a trove of his letters and writings, his life had been almost completely forgotten. Singer reconstructs that life in fascinating detail. He illuminates the complexities of his grandparents' difficult but successful marriage, evokes the vibrant and disputatious life of early-twentieth-century Vienna, and offers a convincing picture of the intellectual and personal battles that dominated the early days of psychoanalysis. Singer's moving book, haunted from the beginning by its terrible end, constitutes a revolt against the anonymity of the Holocaust's grim statistics.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
Singer, a philosopher, bioethicist, professor, and author of 16 books, is best known for the "animal liberation" movement, which deals with the ethics of our treatment of animals. He also is the grandson of David Oppenheim, a Jew and a classical scholar who lived in Vienna and died in Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1942. Oppenheim's wife, Amalie, survived the Holocaust and moved to Australia in 1946. Singer found many letters and intimate personal papers in an aunt's home in Australia and in the State Archives of Austria. They included more than 100 letters that Singer's grandparents wrote to his parents and to his mother's sister after they left for Australia in 1938. Singer describes how his grandfather became a friend of Sigmund Freud and how they discussed theories of psychology. Oppenheim later parted with Freud, following instead the first of the great heretics of psychoanalysis, Alfred Adler. Singer's book is an exceptional eulogy to his grandfather. George CohenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved