Asperg­er’s Chil­dren: The Ori­gins of Autism in Nazi Vienna

  • From the Publisher
March 29, 2018

As the Nazi regime sort­ed peo­ple accord­ing to race, reli­gion, behav­ior, and phys­i­cal con­di­tion for either treat­ment or elim­i­na­tion, Nazi psy­chi­a­trists tar­get­ed chil­dren with dif­fer­ent kinds of minds – espe­cial­ly those thought to lack social skills. Hans Asperg­er, now wide­ly regard­ed as a com­pas­sion­ate defend­er of chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties, is revealed in a new book to have worked with his col­leagues to mold cer­tain autis­tic” chil­dren into pro­duc­tive cit­i­zens, while doom­ing oth­ers. In ASPERG­ER’S CHIL­DREN, prize-win­ning his­to­ri­an Edith Shef­fer expos­es not only Asperg­er’s involve­ment in the racial poli­cies of Hitler’s Third Reich, but his com­plic­i­ty in trans­fer­ring young patients deemed untreat­able to Spiegel­grund, one of the Reich’s dead­liest child-killing centers.

In the first com­pre­hen­sive his­to­ry of the links between autism and Nazism, Shef­fer uncov­ers how a diag­no­sis com­mon today emerged from the atroc­i­ties of the Third Reich. With vivid sto­ry­telling and wide-rang­ing research, ASPERG­ER’S CHIL­DREN will move read­ers to rethink how soci­eties assess, label, and treat those diag­nosed with disabilities.

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