Following eight years of research into the paediatrician Hans Asperger, medical historian Herwig Czech, from Vienna’s Medical University, recently published an academic paper in the open access journal Molecular Autism. Czech highlights the fact that Asperger was an active participant in the Nazi regime, assisting in the Third Reich’s so called euthanasia programme and supporting the concept of racial hygiene.
It is obviously very shocking for the autism community, notably due to the fact that “Asperger” is a term commonly used by many autistic people as a way of describing (part of) their identity. Thus people are really upset to find out that Hans Asperger cooperated with the Nazi regime, to exterminate children, instead of protecting them, as previously thought.
It will probably have an impact on the language we use in the future to describe autism, and we will make sure that this language is always one that is in line with the wishes of the autistic community and follow the key UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities principles, including: “Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity”.