Karl Marx Hof – “a chance to change things”

Karl Marx Hof

Anna Freud wrote concerning the 1920’s, “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.” The last Ubahn stop on the way to the Freud Denkmal at Bellevuehöhe is Heiligenstadt, and across from the station is this monumental housing complex, the ‘Karl Marx Hof,’ first opened in 1923. Anna Freud and others interested in applying psychoanalysis to children’s health and education were involved in creating a kindergarten in one of the first – and very largest – idealistic housing projects in Vienna, the Karl Marx Hof. Following the end of WWI in 1918, Austria was reduced from a massive empire to a small country, and Vienna was plunged into devastating poverty and famine. Although Austria in general remained politically Conservative, Vienna elected its own Socialist government and entered a period of progressive social reform (“Rotes Wien”). Many of these group housing projects (“Gemeindebauten”) were built during the period, and provided numerous on-site social services and recreational facilities. Poor city dwellers were given the chance to have fresh air, green space, education, and child care. I remember when I took a class with Robert Coles at Harvard how he so admired Anna Freud and others in her generation of young analysts who saw psychoanalysis not only as a form of psychotherapy, but a program for enlightened social change. For more on Anna Freud, with some good photos, see http://www.freud-museum.at/freud/themen/anna1-e.htm.Karl Marx Hof edited


About pcooperwhite

Christiane Brooks Johnson Professor of Psychology and Religion, Union Theological Seminary, New York NY
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