Deaf People in Hitler's Europe
Publication Year: 2002
Published by: Gallaudet University Press
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The following collection of essays is the result of several threads of investigation and scholarship woven together at the “Deaf People in Hitler’s Europe, 1933–1945” international conference, which took place in Washington, D.C., on June 21–24, 1998, under the auspices of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the History and Government Department at Gallaudet University....
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Few images of the past half century have haunted the imagination as much as those emanating from Europe in 1945. Although much information regarding the brutal treatment of minorities and Hitler’s political opponents had filtered out of Nazi-controlled Europe between 1933 and 1945, the full horror of the torture and murder...
Part I. Racial Hygiene
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Broad pseudoscientific theories, social policies, and mental images of an ideal population for the New Germany governed the treatment of deaf people during Hitler’s regime. Recent scholarship in Holocaust studies has fit the wartime experiences of people with disabilities into the context of popular “eugenics” theories intended...
Holocaust Studies and the Deaf Community
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The fate of deaf people in Nazi Germany is a neglected aspect of the Holocaust. Certainly, few would think of them as Holocaust victims or survivors. In the United States, even in Germany, few are aware that during the Nazi era, human beings—men, women, and children—with impaired hearing were sterilized against their will,...
Eugenics in Hitler’s Germany
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We like to think that medicine is a force for healing in the world, but we should also not forget that, in the wrong political climate, medicine can join with evil to produce monstrosities.1 Such was the case in the Nazi era. As we shall see, scientists and physicians collaborated in the most horrific crimes of the Nazis—including the...
Targeting the “Unfit” and Radical Public Health Strategies in Nazi Germany
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Nazi ideology identified Jews and Gypsies living within and without the Reich borders as foreign and parasitic elements that threatened the German body politic, and targeted them on biological bases for discrimination and destruction. Yet, even within the German “racial community,” there were components of that population...
Part II. The German Experience
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The Nazis were concerned primarily with the racial and genetic purity of the so-called Aryans, so they applied the most dramatic racial and eugenics policies first within the borders of Germany before moving on to the rest of the rapidly expanding Reich. Thus, our discussion of the impact that marriage prohibitions, forced sterilizations...
Deaf People as Eyewitnesses of National Socialism
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In 1995, for the fiftieth anniversary of German liberation from Hitler’s dictatorship, I presented an exhibition in the Berlin Center for the Deaf, called “Fifty Years Later: Deaf People Under Hitler ’s Dictatorship, 1933–1945.” The exposition consisted of cables from 1930 to 1945, excerpts from contemporary deaf newspapers, photographs...
Misjudged People: The German Deaf Community in 1932
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In August 1932, the German deaf community released a film entitled Verkannte Menschen (Misjudged People) written by Wilhelm Ballier and produced by Alfred Kell. Financed by the members and organizations of REGEDE, the German national deaf association, with a contribution by the association of teachers of deaf children, the...
The Place of the School for the Deaf in the New Reich
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Editor ’s Note: The two chief professional publications for deaf education in the United States are the American Annals of the Deaf (the Annals) and the Volta Review. The Annals is sponsored by the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf and the Convention of American Instructors of the Deaf, and the sponsor of the...
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The testimony I gathered suggests that educators in Germany’s special schools actively supported racial hygiene measures against deaf people; they did not share the “rescue mentality” claimed by historians for special education teachers.1 It is worthwhile to begin this discussion by reviewing the influence of the director of the...
Part III. The Jewish Deaf Experience
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Nazi racial hygiene policies were carried to their deadliest conclusion within the borders of the Third Reich where the Aryan master race was supposed to be purified and propagated. In the case of Jews, the Nazi worldview called for their removal from all of Europe, whether by expulsion or extermination. Similarly, Roma and Sinti,...
Hungarian Deaf Jews and the Holocaust
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Being deaf and Jewish is not easy. The experience of many deaf Jews is one of marginalization. Within Judaism, deaf persons historically have been considered incomplete Jews, classified legally with children and mentally disabled individuals.1 Within the national deaf communities, deaf Jews have faced the same anti-Semitic...
Deaf Survivors’ Testimony: An Edited Transcript
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In the summer of 1997, Donna Ryan and I interviewed a dozen deaf Hungarian Jews. Although neither of us speaks Hungarian nor uses Hungarian sign language, we believe that this transcript is a reasonably accurate English translation of the narratives that follow. Our initial interviews with a dozen Hungarian deaf Jews occurred in the...
Part IV. Concluding Thoughts
A Call for More Research
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When asked in the summer of 1998, prior to the conference on “Deaf People in Hitler’s Europe,” what bibliography I might suggest for background reading before the event, I responded that there was precious little (I must admit, with some embarrassment that I was unaware at the time of Horst Biesold’s...
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Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 3 tables, 20 photographs
Publication Year: 2002