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October 4, 2018

How historian Edith Sheffer unmasked the monster who identified Asperger’s

by Sally Blundell

Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger was complicit in Nazi eugenics, sending disabled children to their death.
When University of California historian Edith Sheffer was told her 17-month-old son, Eric, was on the autism spectrum, she decided to find out more about the man whose name has since been given to her child’s condition. She knew Austrian physician Hans Asperger had defended disabled children from Nazi persecution, using the autism diagnosis as a kind of “psychiatric Schindler’s list”, and never joined the Nazi Party.

But in researching the “heroic story of Asperger”, she found this so-called champion of neurodiversity was not only complicit in the racial hygiene policies of the Third Reich but also played a key role in the systematic killings of disabled children.

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