LINDA WERTHEIMER, host: Here's another story of something lost and then rediscovered - in this case, ashes missing for three-quarters of a century. NPR's Margot Adler brings us this postcard from Vienna.

MARGOT ADLER: My grandfather's ashes had been missing for 74 years. He was a famous Viennese psychoanalyst - Alfred Adler - best known for inventing the inferiority complex and for splitting with Freud in 1911 over issues of sex and power. But in 1937, he died of a heart attack while lecturing in Aberdeen, Scotland. Growing up, I never heard anyone talk about the whereabouts of Adler's remains. But some people started searching. Christine Rosche, the head of the Alfred Adler Institute in Vienna, was one of those people. Over the years she asked:

CHRISTINE ROSCHE: Where is the grave? And so it started the research.

ADLER: But the ashes weren't in Aberdeen. Some psychotherapists teamed up with John Clifford, the honorary Austrian consul for Scotland. And then one day, they walked into a crematorium in Edinburgh, right near Clifford's office, and there was a small wooden box of ashes with the name Alfred Adler, the founder of Individual Psychology.

JOHN CLIFFORD: Ten minutes away from me, you know, he was sleeping almost under my pillow.

ADLER: Since none of Adler's four children were alive, I had to prove that I was the heir and could make the decision to take the ashes back to Vienna where Adler was born. So, here we are 74 years after his death.

ROSCHE: It is a very special pleasure to welcome you all to this memorial ceremony for Alfred Adler here...

ADLER: On July 12th, I join some one hundred people at the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna along with my 20-year-old son, Adler's only great-grandchild. It's the largest cemetery in Vienna; it's where Beethoven, and Brahms and Schubert are buried. Other relatives of Alfred Adler are there - cousins from Amsterdam like Suzanne Hoogendijk, who at age 15 actually hid from the Nazis for two and a half years, just like Anne Frank, but she survived. And here she is, an 86-year-old former judge, who says this makes her feel very rooted.


SUZANNE HOOGENDIJK: I am very glad I am here now.

ADLER: She remembers Alfred Adler when he visited her parents in Holland. She says she was irritated at the way her parents treated him like a guru, and asked for advice about her education.

HOOGENDIJK: He had told my parents to take care that I wouldn't marry a person who was too neurotic. (Laughing)

ADLER: The Austrian media are having a field day. I'm suddenly on the other side of the microphone, interviewed by radio, television, a newspaper, a magazine. Over coffee and pastries at the Cafe Landtmann, where Sigmund Freud used to go, reporters repeatedly said they couldn't understand how the ashes could have been lost for so long.


ADLER: At the ceremony there is a brass ensemble, flowers, and a ridiculous number of psychotherapists. I think no one kept track of the ashes because of the times. In 1937, Alfred's favorite daughter had already been arrested in the Soviet Union and was in the gulag where she would die. The Nazis were on the rise. The Adlers moved permanently to the U.S. in 1935. They weren't religious. I tell the interviewers: My family was more concerned with life and ideas than with ashes. Still, there's something mysterious about this 74-year journey. One speaker at the ceremony, who represented culture and science for the city of Vienna, says this is the city of psychoanalysis, but Adler's findings about the human mind belong to the whole world. Margot Adler, NPR News.


WERTHEIMER: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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