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Hans Asperger: Autism’s Dr. Jekyll And Nazi Mr. Hyde

WARNING: The following information and images may be disturbing to some

 

In a shocking twist that would be something out of a Hitchcock film, Hans Asperger, the Austrian Pediatrician, Medical Theorist, and a professor was on the wrong side of history, make that, the darkest wrong side of history. Though Asperger is known and celebrated for his research in childhood autism and discovering the higher functioning spectrum of it which was named after him (Asperger Syndrome), he was involved in a dark chapter in history many are not aware of, Action T4.

On April 19, 2018, Molecular Autism published their findings after eight years of peer review concluding that Asperger, who has said in the past that he defended his patients against the Nazis, in fact, partook in Action T4 (Aktion T4) the systematically forced euthanasia of mentally handicapped children.

 

Asperger in 1938

 

Asperger himself did not actively murder any of his patients but referred them to one of eight euthanasia sites, Am Spiegelgrund clinic. A special ward was made for the new patients both adolescent and younger. While at the facility the children depending on their cases were either euthanized immediately by either gassing or lethal injection or were kept alive for the purpose of medical experimentation which combined with their (lack of) care would result in death which even then the experiments did not stop.

Though Asperger himself said later in life that he did not agree with the ideology the Third Reich had towards the patients of his chosen field, his research notes said otherwise. According to the peer review by Molecular Autism, Asperger used “harsh language” when describing his patients, he would even go far as to use anti-Semitic stereotyping to determine if the child was of Jewish ancestry, clearly showing that Asperger had a strong belief in Eugenics.

 

Jars containing the brains of victims of the Am Spiegelgrund clinic. The brains were buried in 2002.

 

It’s estimated that around 780+ children died at Am Spiegelgrund it’s believed most of them were at one point patients of Asperger. He may not have killed the children but he knew what was going to happen to them when he sent them to that clinic. There’s now a call to rename Asperger Syndrome which has been met with resistance by critics saying that Asperger’s research and actions from 1940-1945 were a sign of the times and accepted. If this was true, then why did the Nazis go out of their way to keep Action T4 and other programs like it secret? Simple: like Asperger, they knew what they were doing was wrong and that not everyone in their own countries would accept it.

 

Am Spiegelgrund today with a garden containing little rods that light up at night, each one representing a child who died at the clinic.

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