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Hans Asperger sent children to their deaths, studied claims



But the doctor, for whom the Asperger syndrome was named, also cooperated actively with the euthanasia program of the Nazi regime, according to a study published on Thursday in the journal Molecular Autism

medical historian and study author Herwig Czech of the Medical University of Vienna, writes that Asperger was focused on the Nazi ideology of "racial purity" and routinely referred heavily handicapped children routinely to the notorious clinic Am Spiegelgrund in Vienna.

For five years – from 1940 to 1945 – nearly 800 children died in the clinic, many of them intentionally poisoned or starving, according to the study.

It is unclear whether Asperger, for his pioneering autism research on what he called "autistic psychopaths," knew he sent his patients to euthanasia on the mirror base.

Insight for a "Great Conversation"

On the basis of previously unverified documents from Austrian archives, the new study attempts to question the prevailing academic narrative of the doctor as a principal opponent of National Socialism. Although he was never inducted into the ranks of the Nazi Party, Asperger sought membership in several affiliated organizations, the study claims.

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The research is based on Asperger's personal records, political assessments of NS authorities and current medical records of various institutions.

"The picture that emerges is that of a man who, despite his obvious political and ideological distance, has managed to advance his career under the Nazi regime," writes Czech.

The reassessment of Asperger's role in history is likely to trigger intense discussion between people with autism and their families, according to Carol Povey, director of the Autism Center of the National Autistic Society in the UK. "We expect these findings to trigger a great deal of discussion among the 700,000 autistic people in the UK and their family members, especially those who identify with the term 'Asperger'," said Povey.

"We will follow closely the response to these messages so that we can continue to ensure that the language we use to describe autism reflects the preferences of autistic people and their families."

"Obviously no one with a diagnosis The Asperger Syndrome was diagnosed in London in 1981 Lorna Wing coined to describe a highly functional form of autism characterized by average or above-average intelligence.

and difficulties in socializing and communicating with others.
The editors of Molecular Autism, in an editorial accompanying the study, explain that at the time Wing was "unaware that Hans Asperger was working closely with the Nazi program of forced sterilization and euthanasia."

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A particularly disturbing case cited by Czech is that of Herta Schreiber, a 3-year-old female patient with symptoms of mental disorder and physical development who also had encephalitis.

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In 1941, Asperger Herta recommended the transfer to the Spiegelgrund "Permanent Housing" be there "absolutely necessary" because she "has an unbearable burden on her mother".

Herta died three months after admission to hospital, one day after her third birthday. A note in the child's Spiegelgrund file indicated that her mother knew what fate awaited her child.

At least one expert said the report still needed to be seen in context.

"At that time, virtually all physicians in Germany were members of the NSDAP, and against the euthanasia programs for the mentally ill and disabled, there was almost no opposition, except for one or two asylum seekers and a very small group of psychiatrists Catholic bishops," said Dr. Anthony J. Bailey, Professor and Chair of the Psychiatric Institute of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

"The truth is that forced euthanasia has imposed a very diverse number of people with mental and neurological problems, and a focus on Asperger does not seem justified," Bailey said.


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