Letters and Lists: Ernest Jones and Anna Freud

From 1933, Anna Freud and her British colleague Ernest Jones corresponded on the best ways to support psychoanalysts who were at risk in the »German Reich.« Jones, at the time the president of the British Psychoanalytic Society (BPS) and, as of 1934, of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA), maintained excellent contacts to different embassies in London and with the British Home Office and Foreign Ministry. He monitored the events in Germany and Austria, in Paris, Italy, South Africa,
and the United States.

With the »Anschluss« of Austria, the focus moved to saving the WPV members. Anna Freud kept Jones updated on the document status, financial assets, and professional qualifications of each individual colleague. Jones, on the other hand, organized financial support as well as employment including the necessary (country-specific) licenses.

Especially the 20-page list from the archives of the BPS allows an insight into Ernest Jones’s and Anna Freud’s indefatigable efforts to save their threatened colleagues. The document contains 90 names of WPV members and candidates, the majority of whom were living in Vienna in 1938 although some were also abroad, as well extensive information regarding visas, financial assets, addresses, etc.

“Our meeting today is marked by another terrible blow to psychoanalysis, the dissolution of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society … That psychoanalysis should no longer be practiced in Vienna of all places in the world is a breathtaking thought.”

Ernest Jones, August 1, 1938

Another list from the London archive carries the names of altogether 38 WPV members living in Vienna as well as some further names. Handwritten additions next to the names particularly refer to medical specializations.

The British Psychoanalytical Society Archive, London

Otto Isakower

Otto Isakower was born on June 2, 1899, as the son of a Viennese Jewish family. After graduating in medicine in 1923, he worked at the General Hospital in Vienna and trained as a psychiatrist. In 1925, he began a training analysis with Paul Federn and became an associate member of the WPV, and a full member in 1928.

In spring 1938, he married psychoanalyst Salomea Gutmann – which meant the two WPV members only needed one sponsorship document instead of two. The correspondence between Anna Freud and Ernest Jones, which comprises 220 letters concerning the emigration and professional perspectives of WPV members, refers to this situation: »2 analysts will surely survive more easily in a place than one. Are you thinking of a specific city for him? Could Liverpool maybe be an option for these two?,« thus Anna Freud to Jones on April 28, 1938. In a letter in May 1938, Isakower asked Ernest Jones for help with his application to the British Home Office to be licensed as a medical doctor in Great Britain. Jones also procured a loan of 200 pounds to pay for the associated costs. At the end of June 1938, the couple was able to leave for Great Britain. Otto and Salomea settled in Liverpool and became members of the British Psychoanalytic Society (BPS). With two other analysts who emigrated from Budapest and Berlin, they headed a psychoanalytic working group that was recognized by the training committee of the BPS as »North of England« training group in March 1940.

The professional situation, however, remained challenging; the threat of internment as »enemy aliens« was a daily reality for emigrants from Germany and Austria. The Isakowers therefore decided to settle in the United States. After a first entry by Isakower alone on November 1, 1938, the couple arrived in New York on May 4, 1940, and subsequently became members of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. In the 1950s and 1960s, Isakower was active in key functions there. After emigrating, his scientific interests continued to be dreams and dream work; the »Isakower phenomenon« named after him describes regressive sensations while falling asleep.

Otto Isakower remained professionally active until shortly before his death in New York on May 10, 1972.

The Ellis Island Passenger Manifests

Each manifest consists of two pages with a total of 37 fields for various data. The left page contains central data such as name, age, gender, marital status (fields 1-6), or place of birth (field 11) and last place of residence (field 15), but also information about reading, language, and writing skills (field 8). The right-hand side contains more in-depth information about the passenger: In addition to the planned length of stay (field 24) and destination, the next of kin or friend in the country of origin had to be indicated (fields 17-18), as well as who paid for the passage and whether the person entering the country had $50 or less (fields 20-21). Attitudes toward anarchy and polygamy were also inquired and any plans to overthrow the government also had to be indicated (fields 26-28). Height, weight, color of skin and hair, and physical and mental health were also recorded (fields 32-36). Source: The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation

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