I. 1895 – 1938

Born on 3 December 1895, Anna Freud was the youngest of Sigmund and Martha Freud's six children. She was a lively child with a reputation for mischief. Freud wrote to his friend Fliess in 1899: „Anna has become downright beautiful through naughtiness..." Anna finished her education at the Cottage Lyceum in Vienna in 1912, but had not yet decided upon a career. In 1914 she travelled alone to England to improve her English. She was there when war was declared and thus became an "enemy alien". Later that year she began teaching at her old school, the Cottage Lyceum.
A photo shows her with the 5th class of the school c.1918. One of her pupils later wrote: "This young lady had far more control over us than the older 'aunties'."
Already in 1910 Anna had begun reading her father's work, but her serious involvement in psychoanalysis began in 1918, when her father started psychoanalyzing her. (It was not anomalous for a father to analyze his own daughter at this time, before any orthodoxy had been established.)
Anna Freud at the age of 15
Anna at the age of 15
In 1920 they both attended the International Psychoanalytical Congress at The Hague. They now had both work and friends in common. One common friend was the writer and psychoanalyst Lou Andreas-Salomé, who was once the confidante of Nietzsche and Rilke and who was to become Anna Freud's confidante in the 1920s. Through her, the Freuds also met Rilke, whose poetry Anna Freud greatly admired. Her volume of his „Buch der Bilder" bears his dedication, commemorating their first meeting. Anna's literary interests paved the way for her future career. "The more I became interested in psychoanalysis," she wrote, "the more I saw it as a road to the same kind of broad and deep understanding of human nature that writers possess."

Anna Freud, 1920
In 1922 Anna Freud presented her paper "Beating Fantasies and Daydreams" to the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society and became a member of the society. In 1923 she began her own psychoanalytical practice with children and two years later was teaching a seminar at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Training Institute on the technique of child analysis. Her work resulted in her first book, a series of lectures for teachers and parents entitled: „Introduction to the Technique of Child Analysis" (1927: American 1928) Later she was to say of this period: "Back then in Vienna we were all so excited - full of energy: it was as if a whole new continent was being explored, and we were the explorers, and we now had a chance to change things..."
Anna with 'Wolf'
In 1923 Sigmund Freud began suffering from cancer and became increasingly dependent on Anna's care and nursing. Later on, when he needed treatment in Berlin, she was the one who accompanied him there. His illness was also the reason why a "Secret Committee" was formed to protect psychoanalysis against attacks.
From 1927 to 1934 Anna Freud was General Secretary of the International Psychoanalytical Association. She continued her child analysis practice and ran seminars on the subject, organized conferences and, at home, continued to help nursing her father. She also acted as his public representative at such public occasions as the dedication of a plaque at his birthplace in Freiberg or his award of the Goethe Prize in Frankfurt.
In 1935 Anna became director of the Vienna Psychoanalytical Training Institute: the following year she published her influential study of the "ways and means by which the ego wards off unpleasure and anxiety", „The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence". In examining ego functions, the book was a move away from the traditional bases of psychoanalytical thought in the drives: it became a founding work of ego psychology and established her reputation as a pioneering theoretician. As a birthday present she dedicated a copy to her father with the inscription: „Writing books as defence against danger from inside and outside."
The economic and political situation in Austria worsened in the 1930s. Anna and her lifelong friend, Dorothy Burlingham, were concerned by the situation of the poor and involved themselves in charitable initiatives. In 1937 she had the opportunity of combining charity with her own work, when the American, Edith Jackson, funded a nursery school for children of the poor in Vienna. Anna and Dorothy, who ran the school, were able to observe infant behaviour and experiment with feeding patterns. They allowed the children to choose their own food and respected their freedom to organize their own play. Though some of the children's parents had been reduced to begging, Anna wrote "... we were very struck by the fact that they brought the children to us, not because we fed and clothed them and kept them for the the length of the day, but because "they learned so much", i.e. they learned to move freely, to eat independently, to speak, to express their preferences, etc. To our own surprise the parents valued this beyond everything."

Dorothy Burlingham
But within a few months, in March 1938, the nursery had to be closed, Austria was taken over by the Nazis, and the Freuds had to flee, regardless of Sigmund Freud's ill health. Ernest Jones and Princess Marie Bonaparte provided vital assistance in obtaining the emigration papers. But it was Anna above all who had to deal with the Nazi bureaucracy and organize the practicalities of the family's emigration to London. Anna quickly settled down to work in her new home. "England is indeed a civilised country," she wrote, "and I am naturally grateful that we are here. There is no pressure of any kind and there is a great deal of space and freedom ahead."