Austrian paediatrician Asperger ‘actively cooperated’ with Nazis: study

Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger, after whom Asperger's syndrome is named, "actively cooperated" with the Nazi euthanasia programme, according to a new study published on Thursday.

Austrian paediatrician Asperger 'actively cooperated' with Nazis: study
Portrait of Hans Asperger from Vienna city archive personnel file.

“Asperger managed to accommodate himself to the Nazi regime and was rewarded for his affirmations of loyalty with career opportunities,” Herwig Czech, a historian of medicine at the Medical University of Vienna, wrote in the study.

Asperger “publicly legitimised race hygiene policies including forced sterilisations and, on several occasions, actively cooperated” with the Nazis'  child euthanasia programme, according to Czech.

Asperger joined several organisations affiliated with the Nazis, although not the Nazi Party itself, Czech added in the report, published in the open access journal Molecular Autism.

Czech said he consulted a vast array of contemporary publications and  previously unexplored archival documents including the doctor's personnel files and case records from his patients.

He quotes a Nazi document from 1940 as saying Asperger “was in conformity  with National Socialist [Nazi] ideas in questions of race and sterilisation  laws”.

In public lectures Asperger declared his allegiance to the tenets of Nazi  medicine. From 1938, when the Nazis “annexed” Austria into the Third Reich, he took to signing his diagnostic reports with “Heil Hitler”.

According to Czech, Asperger recommended the transfer of two girls, one  aged two and the other five, to the notorious Am Spiegelgrund facility inside  Vienna's Steinhof psychiatric hospital.

This was where nearly 800 children lacking “hereditary worthiness” and “racial purity” died, many of them killed by poisoning and other methods. The  two girls were among those who perished, officially from pneumonia.

Asperger was also a member of a committee tasked with deciding the fate of  around 200 patients in a children's ward at another hospital, 35 of whom were  deemed “uneducable” and later died, according to Czech.

Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, typically involves deficiencies in  social and communication skills and is often seen in people of average or  above average intelligence.

Asperger first identified it as “autistic psychopathy” but his work was only recognised and the syndrome named after him following his death in 1980, although its designation has long been contentious.

READ ALSO: University revokes zoologist's honorary doctorate over Nazi past


Austrian rapper arrested over neo-Nazi songs

Austrian authorities said Tuesday they have arrested a rapper accused of broadcasting neo-Nazi songs, one of which was used by the man behind a deadly anti-Semitic attack in Germany.

Austrian rapper arrested over neo-Nazi songs
Austrian police officers patrol at the house where Adolf Hitler was born during the anti-Nazi protest in Braunau Am Inn, Austria on April 18, 2015. Photo: JOE KLAMAR / AFP

“The suspect has been arrested on orders of the Vienna prosecutors” and transferred to prison after a search of his home, said an interior ministry statement.

Police seized a mixing desk, hard discs, weapons, a military flag from the Third Reich era and other Nazi objects during their search.

Austrian intelligence officers had been trying for months to unmask the rapper, who went by the pseudonym Mr Bond and had been posting to neo-Nazi forums since 2016.

The suspect, who comes from the southern region of Carinthia, has been detained for allegedly producing and broadcasting Nazi ideas and incitement to hatred.

“The words of his songs glorify National Socialism (Nazism) and are anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic,” said the interior ministry statement.

One of his tracks was used as the sound track during the October 2019 attack outside a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle.

In posts to online forums based in the United States, the rapper compared the man behind the 2019 Christchurch shootings that killed 51 people at a New Zealand mosque to a saint, and translated his racist manifesto into German.

Last September, an investigation by Austrian daily Der Standard and Germany's public broadcaster ARD said that the musician had been calling on members of neo-Nazi online forums and chat groups to carry out terrorist attacks for several years.

They also reported that his music was used as the soundtrack to the live-streamed attack in Halle, when a man shot dead two people after a failed attempt to storm the synagogue.

During his trial last year for the attack, 28-year-old Stephan Balliet said he had picked the music as a “commentary on the act”. In December, a German court jailed him for life.

“The fight against far-right extremism is our historical responsibility,” Austria's Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said Tuesday.

Promoting Nazi ideology is a criminal offence in Austria, which was the birth place of Adolph Hitler.