Hans Asperger

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A lunatic Chaplin imitator
and his greatest fans

Icon nazi.svg
First as tragedy
Then as farce
Tell me about
your mother

Icon psychology.svg
For our next session...
Popping into your mind
We should stop saying "Asperger." It’s one way to honor the children killed in his name as well as those still labeled with it.
—Edith Sheffer[1]

Johann "Hans" Friedrich Karl Asperger (18 February 1906 – 21 October 1980) was an Austrian pediatrician, best known for the disorder named after him, was a eugenicist, and was a close collaborator with the Nazi Party, though not officially a member.

The disorder for which he is known[edit]

Asperger Syndrome (also Asperger Disorder, initially called "autistic psychopathy" by Hans himself) is a part of the autism spectrum. The difference is the level of cognitive neurotypical behavior as opposed to more severe symptoms. In media speak, this is a "mild form" or "high functioning" autism. The difference is such a thin and blurry line that it is truly difficult to know where one begins and the other one ends, which necessitated a 3rd diagnosis, Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), to catch people with shades of both. In 1994, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Revision (DSM-IV) included this as a valid disorder, but in 2013 with the 5th revision (DSM-V), they decided (with some controversy) this wasn't useful or helpful, so it was excised under the general and somewhat narrower label of "Autism Spectrum Disorder" (although anyone diagnosed under the DSM-IV did not have to be re-diagnosed).

The atrocities for which he should be known[edit]

Hans is far less known for his cooperation with the Nazis in regards to sending what Nazis deem mentally unfit to a death clinic.

Asperger managed to accommodate himself to the Nazi regime and was rewarded for his affirmations of loyalty with career opportunities. He joined several organizations affiliated with the [National Socialist German Workers' Party] (although not the Nazi party itself), publicly legitimized race hygiene policies including forced sterilizations and, on several occasions, actively cooperated with the child ‘euthanasia' program.
—Czech Herwig[2]

Asperger Syndrome, as it seemed to be used during the Holocaust, was more of a classification of the "gifted" and of use to the Third Reich, to protect them from euthanasia.[3]


  1. New Studies Have Unearthed Dr. Asperger’s Nazi Compliance: But The Important Question Regards How Much Has really Changed (April 20, 2018) Intersectional Neurodiversity.
  2. Herwig, Czech (19 April 2018). "Hans Asperger, National Socialism, and "race hygiene" in Nazi-era Vienna". Molecular Autism 9: 29. PMID 29713442. 
  3. Sheffer, Edith (March 31, 2018). "The Nazi History behind "Asperger"".