Healthy Living

Respected Autism Pioneer Is Actually a Monster

Respected Autism Pioneer Is Actually a Monster

Respected Autism Pioneer Is Actually a Monster

Asperger Syndrome, commonly referred to as simply Asperger’s, is a developmental disorder that is characterized by nonverbal communication, repetitive behavior, and difficulties in social interaction. Asperger’s was named after Johann “Hans” Friedrich Karl Asperger, who was an Austrian pediatrician, medical professor, and a medical theorist. He is best known as one of the pioneers of autism research.

The legend states that Dr. Hans Asperger had advocated on behalf of his young autistic patients’ special skills and intelligence and by doing so, he saved them from being killed by the Nazis during World War II. “Autistic people have their place in the organism of the social community,” he wrote in 1944. However, new evidence has surfaced, showing the respected doctor whose name stands as a common form of autism to be linked to Nazi child-killing.

The man behind the name

According to Herwig Czech, a medical historian who uncovered unexamined documents and patient reports from the Nazi era, Dr. Hans Asperger participated in the Nazi euthanasia program.

The program, also known as Aktion T4, involved the deliberate killing of children who were considered incurably ill, physically or mentally disabled. In Czech’s research paper, which was published in the journal Molecular Autism, he notes how Dr. Hans Asperger wrote unfavorable descriptions of over 40 of his young autistic patients, which resulted in them being sent to the Spiegelgrund clinic – a child euthanasia clinic. They were sent to the clinic to die if they did not fit with the Nazi regime’s goal of establishing a genetically pure society. The young autistic patients were considered to be a burden to society and not worthy of living.

Throughout his career, Dr. Hans Asperger had portrayed himself to be a principle man and a courageous opposer of the Nazi euthanasia program. For a long time, it was believed that the doctor was responsible solely for making valuable contributions to the field of pediatrics and child psychiatry. However, Czech’s work shows that although Dr. Hans Asperger was never technically a member of the Nazi party, he played an active role in the Nazi’s killing rampage and euthanasia policies. “Asperger managed to accommodate himself to the Nazi regime and was rewarded for his affirmations of loyalty with career opportunities,” wrote Czech.

History found out and made public

The historian’s paper coincides with a newly published book, titled Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna. The author, Edith Sheffer, describes the horrific events that took place at the clinic where Dr. Hans Asperger sent his young, ‘unsuitable’ autistic patients. “At least 5,000 children perished in around 37 'special wards’. Am Spiegelgrund, in Vienna, was one of the deadliest. Killings were done in the youths’ own beds, as nurses issued overdoses of sedatives until the children grew ill and died, usually of pneumonia,” wrote Sheffer.

Read on to learn more about Asperger's horrific past.

Photo: Grave-site of euthanasia children's victims from the Spiegelgrund clinic at Wien-Zentralfriedhof.