LONDON – Thieves tried to steal the ashes of Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychoanalysis, and his wife, Martha, from a Jewish cemetery in London, police said Wednesday.
The ashes were contained in an ancient urn dating back to the third century B.C., which was severely damaged during the attempted theft.
“Between Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, burglars attempted to steal an urn containing the remains of Sigmund Freud and his wife Martha” from Golders Green Crematorium in northwest London, police said in a statement.
Detective Constable Daniel Chandler appealed to the public for information to identify those responsible for a crime that “defies belief.”
“This was a despicable act by a callous thief,” he said. “Even leaving aside the financial value of the irreplaceable urn and the historical significance to whom it related, the fact that someone set out to take an object knowing it contained the last remains of a person defies belief.”
The urn was thought to be kept on a plinth in a private area. Officials at the cemetery were not available for comment.
Freud grew up in Austria but fled to London in 1938 with his wife and daughter, Anna, when the Nazis annexed the country. He died of cancer the following year.