Peter Pirker gave a fascinating account of the remarkable wartime career of Anton Walter Freud. He explained how his research interest started with an investigation of the background of an Austrian, working for SOE who was murdered by the Gestapo. Contrary to the prevailing view in the village he had not been a common criminal or traitor but a courageous young man. Research into SOE brought Dr Pirker to the name of Anton Walter Freud.
Like his grandfather Sigmund (and cousins Clement and Lucien) Walter arrived in Britain as a refugee from Nazi Germany. His studies in Chemical Engineering at Loughborough were interrupted in 1940 when he was interned as an 'enemy alien' sent to the Isle of Man then transported to Australia in the notorious 'SS Dunera'. After returning to England he was recruited by the Special Operations Executive and in April 1945 parachuted into Nazi Austria. Dr Pirker told the fascinating story of this operation. After the war he worked on war crimes investigations into Tesch & Stabenow (suppliers of Zyklon B to Auschwitz) before returning to Loughborough to complete his studies.
Dr Pirker's talks triggered many questions, including several from Loughborough alumni who were well represented in the audience. The department was particularly happy to welcome Walter Freud's son David and his daughter-in-law Cilla.