The term “Asperger’s syndrome” will never be heard the same way again, owing to new research showing that Hans Asperger—the Austrian pediatrician for whom the disorder was named—was an active participant in the Nazi eugenics program, recommending that patients deemed “not fit for life” be sent to a notorious children’s “euthanasia” clinic.
He even claimed that he was hunted down by the Gestapo for refusing to hand over profoundly disabled children.
But new work by Herwig Czech, a historian of medicine at the Medical University of Vienna, says there’s no evidence for these claims, and that the popular conception of Asperger is false.
The brutal reality, according to Czech, is that he was both a Nazi sympathiser, and a medical doctor who “actively contributed” to the Nazi eugenics program.
Evidence uncovered by Czech shows that Asperger collaborated with the Nazis during this time by directly and indirectly referring profoundly disabled children to Vienna’s Am Spiegelgrund—a children’s clinic where, from 1940 to 1945, nearly 800 children were killed as part of the Nazi Children’s Euthanasia Program, or Aktion T4 as it was also known.
According to Czech, Asperger knew exactly what was going on at the clinic—that children were being murdered as part of the Nazi eugenics program.