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Winnicott, D.W. (1959). Oscar Friedmann, 1903—1958. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 40:247-248.

(1959). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 40:247-248

Oscar Friedmann, 1903—1958

D. W. Winnicott

Oscar Friedmann, who died suddenly in London on 28 December, 1958, was born in March, 1903 in Germany, the eldest son in a family of nine children and for some time the only boy. He appears to have had a happy family life in his first years. He matured early, and it was therefore a heavy blow to him that on his father's death, when he was ten, the father's brothers decided that he and his sisters and brother should enter an orphanage. As a consequence he was unable to help his bereaved mother or her children. This might have embittered him, but instead it set him a pattern for his lifework. He made the helping of children his special job. He was dominated by the aim to keep a child at home when a home exists, and to meet the child's need to be able to contribute to its upkeep.

It happened that after his father's death he was sent to a bad institution, and he therefore knew at first hand the full extent of childhood frustration and misery. Soon he was transferred to a better institution, where he formed a strong relationship with the Director, which lasted until the latter's recent death. Here again experience became the basis for a pattern of action.

Friedmann trained as a teacher and later became a social worker. He did social work mainly with delinquent boys, and became Director of a Borstal in 1932 at Wolzig, near Berlin. He established himself as one who had the power to help boys and girls in need, especially adolescents. He was thus fulfilling himself at a time when, as a result of the Nazi régime, he and the children of the Borstal were put into a concentration camp which was notorious for the active cruelty practised in it.

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