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.