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

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

by Edith Sheffer


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“An impassioned indictment, one that glows with the heat of a prosecution motivated by an ethical imperative.” —Lisa Appignanesi, New York Review of Books

In the first comprehensive history of the links between autism and Nazism, prize-winning historian Edith Sheffer uncovers how a diagnosis common today emerged from the atrocities of the Third Reich. As the Nazi regime slaughtered millions across Europe during World War Two, it sorted people according to race, religion, behavior, and physical condition. Nazi psychiatrists targeted children with different kinds of minds—especially those thought to lack social skills—claiming the Reich had no place for them. Hans Asperger and his colleagues endeavored to mold certain “autistic” children into productive citizens, while transferring others to Spiegelgrund, one of the Reich’s deadliest child killing centers. In this unflinching history, Sheffer exposes Asperger’s complicity in the murderous policies of the Third Reich.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393357790
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/10/2020
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 415,341
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Edith Sheffer is a historian of Germany and central Europe, and a senior fellow at the Institute of European Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of the prize-winning Burned Bridge: How East and West Germans Made the Iron Curtain.

Table of Contents

Introduction 11

Chapter 1 Enter the Experts 25

Chapter 2 The Clinic's Diagnosis 49

Chapter 3 Nazi Psychiatry and Social Spirit 62

Chapter 4 Indexing Lives 87

Chapter 5 Fatal Theories 100

Chapter 6 Asperger and the Killing System 127

Chapter 7 Girls and Boys 148

Chapter 8 The Daily Life of Death 180

Chapter 9 In Service to the Volk 207

Chapter 10 Reckoning 222

Epilogue 238

Acknowledgments 249

Abbreviations 253

Notes 255

Illustration Credits 303

Index 305

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