Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Web site documents deaf experience during World War II

Web site documents deaf experience during World War II
Democrat and Chronicle - January 23, 2007
Patricia Durr

Guest essayist

(January 23, 2007) — A Web site to help make the experiences of deaf
people during World War II better known is now available through the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, a college of Rochester Institute of Technology.

This site, www.rit.edu/deafww2, which features videotape clips, testimonies, articles, scripts, artwork, books and related links, explores an area of deaf studies that until now has lacked information.
More from the story here.

Shocking, horrible stuff I'd never thought about before. From the site, which in this section draws heavily from Crying Hands: Eugenics and Deaf People in Nazi Germany, by Horst Biesold:

"As a result of the Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring, 200,000 to 350,000 disabled Germans are estimated to have been sterilized, 17,000 of whom were Deaf. The numbers of disabled people who were 'put to sleep' in the secretive T4 program is estimated at 70,000 people." Many pregnant deaf women underwent forcible abortions.

Deaf schools informed on their students, alerting the authorities they should be sterilized.

If you were a good non-Jewish deaf person and agreed to be sterilized, you could join - in fact, would be pressured to join - the Reich Organization for the Deaf of Germany.

Deaf Jews, gypsies, homosexuals or criminals, of course, had no hope. No hope at all. 162 Deaf Jewish children from the Israelite Institute for the Deaf were summarily executed.

Wow. I'd never thought of myself as a target for eugenics.

It's not like I needed any more reason to hate the architects of the Third Reich, but the knowledge that they would have sterilized me (often without anaesthetic) or murdered me, personally, does add a kind of final punctuation mark to my feelings on them.

It's not all bleak. The site has some interesting information about the experiences of deaf Canadians, Americans, Brits and Asians during the war, too, including their contributions to the war effort. A very worthy site that I'll spend some time exploring.

ronnie

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Sister said...

Very interesting. I wonder if they would have differenciated between those born deaf (possibly seen as "faulty"), and those who went deaf as the result of an accident or illness, as it would not be "passed on".

7:34 PM  
Blogger ronnie said...

Excellent question. My guess is the answer would be "no" in the case of illness (you'd still be genetically "suspect", wouldn't you, by being susceptible to the disease?) but "maybe" in the case of those deafened by accident (head injury) or long-term exposure to noise (factory or foundry workers, for instance).

But that's just a guess. Who knows the minds of madmen?

ronnie

8:42 PM  

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