Else Pappenheim

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 09 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1300
  1. Ned Stafford

    Psychiatrist and member of Freud’s Psychoanalytic Society

    It was March 1938. Else Pappenheim was at a lecture by psychologist Heinz Hartmann at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society, founded by Sigmund Freud. Pappenheim, 26 years old and in training in neurology and psychiatry, heard shouts outside: “Heil Hitler! Heil Hitler!” She and others looked out the windows to see Nazi supporters marching in the street. Dr Hartmann ended the lecture, warning of danger.

    “They all went home,” according to Bernhard Handlbauer, an Austrian psychotherapist and historian who a half century later interviewed Dr Pappenheim for an oral history project. “It was a very sad situation because they knew that would be the last time they could meet there. Things were going to change.”

    Society shut down

    The next day German soldiers goose stepped into Vienna, and Austria was swallowed into Nazi Germany. Freud’s society was shut down. Most members in the following months fled Austria, including Pappenheim. She reluctantly left her beloved Vienna for the United States, but full of knowledge and memories of top Viennese analysts that she would years later pass to younger generations. Until her death she was widely thought to be …

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