Book Review: Asperger's Children by Edith Sheffer

Title: Asperger's Children
By: Edith Sheffer
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 320
Release Date: May 1st, 2018
Publisher: W. W. Norton Company
Rating: ★★★★☆

Summary from Goodreads:

Hans Asperger, the pioneer of autism and Asperger syndrome in Nazi Vienna, has been celebrated for his compassionate defense of children with disabilities. But in this groundbreaking book, prize-winning historian Edith Sheffer exposes that Asperger was not only involved in the racial policies of Hitler’s Third Reich, he was complicit in the murder of children.

As the Nazi regime slaughtered millions across Europe during World War Two, it sorted people according to race, religion, behavior, and physical condition for either treatment or elimination. Nazi psychiatrists targeted children with different kinds of minds—especially those thought to lack social skills—claiming the Reich had no place for them. Asperger and his colleagues endeavored to mold certain "autistic" children into productive citizens, while transferring others they deemed untreatable to Spiegelgrund, one of the Reich’s deadliest child-killing centers.

In the first comprehensive history of the links between autism and Nazism, Sheffer uncovers how a diagnosis common today emerged from the atrocities of the Third Reich. With vivid storytelling and wide-ranging research, Asperger’s Children will move readers to rethink how societies assess, label, and treat those diagnosed with disabilities.


I have a son with Asperger's syndrome and one with high functioning autism. This book was really hard to get through. I kept picturing their faces and how they would be considered less than human and not worth the effort back during WW2. I had no idea that the Germans were killing their own children just because they were different. Books don't normally make me cry, but this one did. Prepare to be sad deep down in your soul.

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