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Dräger, K. Friedeberg, J. (1972). Psychoanalysis in Hitler Germany: 1933–1949. Am. Imago, 29(3):199-214.

(1972). American Imago, 29(3):199-214

Psychoanalysis in Hitler Germany: 1933–1949

Käthe Dräger and Jeanette Friedeberg

The Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute of the German Psychoanalytic Association felt it to be its responsibility to give recognition in 1970 to the founding of the first Berlin Institute, which had taken place exactly a half century earlier. The task was to evaluate the historical significance and the scientific achievement of the old Institute. The anniversary celebration was observed in October, and analysts from abroad and from Germany offered a series of scientific lectures to the more than 200 participants.

Dr. Hilda Abraham of London surveyed the early work of her father, Karl Abraham in Berlin. The director of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute, H. J. Bannach spoke on “The scientific significance of the old Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute.” He concluded: “It would be presumptuous if we of the refounded Berlin Institute compared ourselves with the old Institute. Because of the specific condition of Berlin, we are but a small group. Yet, it was this commitment of the pioneers of the old Institute which, without support from the outside, is determined in like manner to become the starting point for the extension of psychoanalysis in post-war Germany.”

The political-historical development between 1933 and 1945 and its disastrous effect on the vicissitudes of psychoanalysis in Berlin and in Germany could not and must not be covered over. As I was witness to this development in Berlin from 1931, first as a student, then as a candidate, and later as a member of the Deutsche Psychoanalytische Gesellschaft, the task fell to me for reporting on that tragic era.

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