A new study by the medical historian, Herwig Czech, has shed more light on the revelations that Hans Asperger, the Austrian pediatrician for whom a form of autism is named, had collaborated with the Nazis and actively assisted in the killing of disabled children, according to a report in The New York Times today. The report relies on eight years of research that included the examination of previously unseen Nazi-era documents.
The study concludes that though Dr. Asperger was not a member of the Nazi Party, he had participated in the Third Reich’s child-euthanasia program, which aimed to establish a “pure” society by eliminating those deemed a “burden.”
“The picture that emerges is that of a man who managed to further his career under the Nazi regime, despite his apparent political and ideological distance from it,” Mr. Czech, of the University of Vienna, wrote in his study.
Asperger syndrome is a lifelong developmental disability associated with autism that affects perception and social interaction. About one in 68 children in the United States have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The study’s findings have prompted debate and consternation among people with autism and their advocates, especially those who identify with the term “Asperger,” Carol Povey, director of the London-based Center for Autism of the National Autistic Society, said in an email.