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Gumbel, E. (1962). Anna Smeliansky—1879–1961. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 43:360-360.

(1962). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 43:360-360

Anna Smeliansky—1879–1961

Erich Gumbel

On 20 July, 1961, Dr Anna Smeliansky died at the age of 82. Her life, shadowed by hereditary retinal atrophy, was distinguished by her deep devotion to psycho-analysis.

Born in a hamlet near Kiev, she acquired her school education on her own resources and passed examinations in Odessa. In view of conditions in Russia at the turn of the century, she went to Switzerland to study medicine. There a friend of hers once found her bent over a textbook of ophthalmology, saying: 'I am studying my own disease; I shall slowly lose my eyesight.' With great spiritual strength the young student made up her mind to bear her suffering by herself, in solitude and loneliness, not burdening with her affliction anyone close to her.

After finishing her studies she took up internal medicine. In 1912, moved by the ideals of Socialism and Zionism, she left Europe for Palestine. For a year she cared medically for some hundred Yemenite families in Jerusalem. The glaring light of the Mediterranean landscape forced her back to Europe to live in Berlin. There she joined up with another pioneering group, the psycho-analytical one, to become first assistant at the Polyclinic, when Eitingon opened the world's first Psycho-Analytical Institute in 1920.

When, in the early thirties, Hitler's advent to power spelled the end of analysis in Germany, Dr Smeliansky had to move once more, and came finally to settle in Tel-Aviv. She went into private practice, caring affectionately for her patients until her last illness a few months before her death.

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