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Anna Ornstein

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Anna Brünn Ornstein
Anna Brünn

(1927-01-27) January 27, 1927 (age 97)
Alma materHeidelberg University School of Medicine
Known forSelf psychology
(m. 1946⁠–⁠2017)
Scientific career

Anna Ornstein (née Anna Brünn; born January 27, 1927) is a Hungarian-American Auschwitz survivor, psychoanalyst and psychiatrist, author, speaker, and scholar.

Early life[edit]

Anna Brünn was born into a wealthy Jewish family in Szendrő, Hungary, which at the time had a total of 4,000 residents. Because the small town only had 40 Jewish families, Anna felt the presence of anti-semitism while growing up.[1]


When German Army took over Hungary in 1944, Jews in Szendrő were quickly identified, forced to wear yellow stars, and were sought out for extermination.[2]

Anna's two brothers were sent to forced labor camps, while she and the rest of her family were sent to Auschwitz. Her two brothers died at the camps, and the Germans killed her father and extended family when they arrived at Auschwitz in June 1944. However, Anna and her mother survived deportation, Auschwitz, ghetto imprisonment, and the Parschnitz labor camp.[3] The two returned to Hungary in July 1945.[4]

Life after the Holocaust[edit]

Upon returning to Hungary, Anna finished high school and her mother ran an orphanage for Jewish children whose parents did not come back from the Holocaust. She was reunited with Paul Ornstein, whom she had met several years before and who had also survived the Holocaust. The two married in March 1946, and the two of them escaped Hungary into West Germany and enrolled in medical school there.[4]

Medical training[edit]

After earning their medical degrees in 1952[4] from Heidelberg University School of Medicine, where some of their classmates were Nazi soldiers, Anna and Paul immigrated to the United States.[1] The two are also graduates of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis.[5]

Medical career[edit]

Ornstein served as a long-time Professor and Emerita Professor of Child Psychiatry at University of Cincinnati Medical School and later as a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

She was a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute and a Supervising Analyst at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis.[6] She and her husband also co-founded and was the co-director of the International Center for the Study of Psychoanalytic Self-Psychology.[7]

At the University of Cincinnati, Anna and Paul were instrumental in developing and leading the self psychology movement, "a post-Freudian method developed by Heinz Kohut, which stresses empathy and a relational approach in order to enhance the bond between patient and therapist and provide an analytic cure."[8] They worked very closely with Kohut.[1][3]

Ornstein has written over 100 publications that cover a wide range of topics, including the interpretive process in psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic psychotherapy, child psychotherapy, treatment of children and families, and recovery after traumatic experiences.[1][5]

Holocaust education[edit]

Ornstein is an educator on the Holocaust and talks to universities, secondary schools, organizations, synagogues, and groups around the world about the Holocaust, her experiences, and anti-Semitism.[9] She especially has a presence within the Boston area and has spoken to students at colleges including Tufts University,[10] Northeastern University,[11] and Brandeis University.[12]

She has been interviewed by The Washington Post,[9] featured in The Jewish Journal,[13] interviewed on Boston's National Public Radio station WGBH,[14] and featured in numerous other publications. She also served as a staff member of Facing History and Ourselves and the Terezin Music Foundation.[15][3]

In 2004, she published her memoir, My Mother's Eyes: Holocaust Memories of a Young Girl, a collection of short stories of her life during the war.[16]


Ornstein has been the recipient of numerous awards, related to both her work in medicine and in Holocaust education:

In their address honoring Ornstein with the Kravitz Award in 2018, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute wrote:

"As a leader of American psychoanalysis, Dr. Ornstein has woven together the roles of scholar, clinician, teacher, and voice of conscience. There is perhaps no one who more fully fits the description of humanitarian psychoanalyst and activist than Dr. Ornstein. She most recently demonstrated this after a series of anti-Semitic events in the Reading schools this fall. Dr. Ornstein felt it was urgent to respond, both to the specific events and to the general political situation in our country. In particular, she felt it was critical to draw attention to the dangers of gradually accepting previously unthinkable repression and of normalizing outrageous intolerance. She met with Reading town officials and teachers and helped organize a group called Reading Embraces Diversity. She also talked to several hundred sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in Reading schools, presenting a piece on Kristallnacht that looked at similarities and differences between the situation in Europe in the 1930s and the current situation in the United States. After her presentation, the students asked questions about what had happened in Europe and whether it could happen here."[3]


She met Paul Ornstein, whom she would marry years later, as a young girl and they fell in love. Although the Holocaust separated the two of them, they reunited after the war.[18] After embarking upon very similar careers, the couple completed much research together and were frequent collaborators.[19]

Anna and Paul raised three children, all of whom became psychiatrists and two of whom became psychoanalysts, and have seven grandchildren.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d "Cincinnati Judaica Fund". www.cincinnatijudaicafund.com. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  2. ^ Silverman, Martin A. (2017). "MY MOTHER'S EYES: HOLOCAUST MEMORIES OF A YOUNG GIRL. By Anna Ornstein and Stewart Goldman". The Psychoanalytic Quarterly. 86 (1): 190–198. doi:10.1002/psaq.12131. ISSN 2167-4086. S2CID 411391.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Kravitz Award". BPSI.org. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c "TMF Educator Anna Ornstein". TEREZIN MUSIC FOUNDATION. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Liszewski, Tom (April 23, 2014). "Anna Ornstein". Walden Forum. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  6. ^ Tutter, Adele; Wurmser, Léon (September 16, 2015). Grief and Its Transcendence: Memory, Identity, Creativity. Routledge. ISBN 9781317606369.
  7. ^ "The Face of Experience". bpsi.org. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  8. ^ "At German Schools After WWII, Holocaust Survivors Studied Alongside Nazi Veterans". Tablet Magazine. July 26, 2017. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Faiola, Anthony; Boorstein, Michelle; Eglash, Ruth (January 23, 2015). "Voices of Auschwitz". The Washington Post.
  10. ^ "Cummings/Hillel Holocaust & Genocide Education Program Keynote Speaker: Dr. Anna Ornstein | Tufts Hillel". tuftshillel.org. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  11. ^ "Holocaust Awareness Programs Explore Connections Between Past and Present Events". cssh.northeastern.edu. May 10, 2018. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  12. ^ Geist, Gilda. "Women grapple with families' Holocaust legacies". The Justice. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  13. ^ "Auschwitz survivor warns American Jews to be vigilant". Jewish Journal. November 14, 2018. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  14. ^ "On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Lessons From Survivors". News. January 26, 2018. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  15. ^ "Facing History and Ourselves' Echoes of the Holocaust: Beyond Sides of History". Facing History and Ourselves. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  16. ^ Ornstein, Anna (2004). My Mother's Eyes: Holocaust Memories of a Young Girl. Clerisy Press, Emmis Books. ISBN 1578601452.
  17. ^ "The danger of silence, the power of our voices | Stop Bullying Coalition". www.stopbullyingcoalition.org. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  18. ^ Kraft, Dina (May 1, 2019). "'Anne Frank of Budapest': Newly Discovered Diary Chronicles Jewish Girl's Life in Nazi-occupied Hungary". Haaretz. Retrieved June 25, 2019.
  19. ^ a b Halpern, Jeffrey K. (March 4, 2019). "Paul H. Ornstein, MD (1924–2017)". The International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 100 (2): 384–392. doi:10.1080/00207578.2019.1584857. ISSN 0020-7578. PMID 33952164.