Hans Asperger's case studies: Whatever happened to them?

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MrXxx
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14 Jun 2010, 5:26 pm

Anybody know?

Maybe I'm just impatient. I'm reading Uta Frith's book "Autism and Asperger's Syndrome, and am only up to the Lorna Wing chapter so far, but I'm already wondering what became of the individuals Asperger studied in the first place.

Does anyone know if they are mentioned further along in life, later in the book or elsewhere?

I think it would be a fascinating and revealing read, especially if any of them had children later on themselves, to find out what became of their families.

Another thing I've been wondering is whether anyone knows of any studies done on children from families where AS is prevalent, who were adopted at very early ages. It might be interesting to learn whether anyone has explored the topic as a means to understand whether environmental factors may or may not be a heavier influence on AS processing patterns than genes may be. I sometimes wonder if a child predisposed to AS might not ever display it if brought up in a different environment, with parents of very different thinking processes.

I guess you could say I'm wondering, and have been for a long time now, where the "chicken-egg" cycle really begins. Do genes really have anything at all to do with it? Or could it be long standing cultural influences rooted in old cultures, languages, and ways of thinking that really don't have anything at all to do with genes?

I'm not predisposed either way, but I have seen some evidence that some of my own cultural ancestry, (attitudes, philosophies and language etc.) might have something to do with my own thinking patterns as learned, but not necessarily inherited from my parents through their ancestry.

I wonder about too many things sometimes...


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14 Jun 2010, 6:25 pm

Dr Tony Attwood says they were all lost, and much other research, too, when Dr. Asperger's clinic burned down in the late 1940's. His daughter did save some research, it was said. I don't know where Dr Attwood got that info, though, but he said it in a talk in Bremerton WA in 2008, and again in Portland, OR in 2009.


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14 Jun 2010, 7:06 pm

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Hans Asperger
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, search
Hans Asperger

Asperger performing a psychological test on a child at the University Pediatric Clinic, Vienna, c. 1940.
Born February 18, 1906
Vienna, Austria–Hungary
Died October 21, 1980 (aged 74)

Profession Physician
Institutions University Children's Hospital, Vienna
University of Vienna
Specialism pediatrics
Research autism
Known for Discovery of Asperger syndrome


Hans Asperger (February 18, 1906 – October 21, 1980) was the Austrian pediatrician after whom Asperger syndrome is named.

Contents [hide]
1 Life
2 Asperger syndrome
3 Papers
4 External link
5 References

[edit] Life
Asperger studied medicine in Vienna and became employed as a member of the University Children's Hospital in Vienna. He married in 1935 and had five children.[1] Contemporary photographs show that he had "a frank, earnest face, glamorous in its way, with a full head of curly hair and intense spectacles".[2]

It is not certain what Asperger did during the early years of World War II [citation needed]. In the later years of the war he was a medical officer in Croatia; his younger brother died in Stalingrad.[1] In 1944, after the publication of his landmark paper describing autistic symptoms, he found a permanent tenured post at the University of Vienna. Shortly after the war ended, he became director of a children's clinic in the city. He was appointed Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Vienna, a post he held for 20 years. He also later held a post at Innsbruck. Then, beginning in 1964, he headed the SOS-Kinderdorf in Hinterbrühl.[citation needed]

[edit] Asperger syndrome
Asperger published the first definition of Asperger syndrome in 1944. In four boys, he identified a pattern of behavior and abilities that he called "autistic psychopathy," meaning autism (self) and psychopathy (personality disease). The pattern included "a lack of empathy, little ability to form friendships, one-sided conversations, intense absorption in a special interest, and clumsy movements." Asperger called children with AS "little professors" because of their ability to talk about their favorite subject in great detail. It is commonly said[by whom?] that the paper was based on only four boys. However, Dr. Günter Krämer, of Zürich, who knew Asperger, states that it "was based on investigations of more than 400 children."[citation needed]

Asperger was convinced that many of the children he identified as having autistic symptoms would use their special talents in adulthood. He followed one child, Fritz V., into adulthood. Fritz V. became a professor of astronomy and solved an error in Newton’s work he originally noticed as a child. Hans Asperger’s positive outlook contrasts strikingly with Leo Kanner's description of autism, of which Asperger's syndrome is often considered to be a high-functioning form. In his 1944 paper, as Dr. Uta Frith translated it from the German in 1991, Asperger wrote:

“ We are convinced, then, that autistic people have their place in the organism of the social community. They fulfil their role well, perhaps better than anyone else could, and we are talking of people who as children had the greatest difficulties and caused untold worries to their care-givers.[3]


Near the end of World War II, Asperger opened a school for children with autistic psychopathy, with Sister Victorine. Unfortunately, the school was bombed towards the end of the war, Sister Victorine was killed, the school was destroyed and much of Hans Asperger's early work was lost. It was this event that arguably delayed the understanding of autism spectrum conditions in the west.[citation needed]

Interestingly, as a child, Hans Asperger himself appeared to have exhibited features of the very condition subsequently named after him. He was described as a remote and lonely child, who had difficulty making friends [citation needed]. He was talented in language; in particular he was interested in the Austrian poet Franz Grillparzer, whose poetry he would frequently quote to his uninterested classmates [citation needed]. He also liked to quote himself and often referred to himself from a third-person perspective.[1]

Asperger died before his identification of this pattern of behavior became widely recognized, because his work was mostly in German and barely translated. The term "Asperger's syndrome" was popularized in a 1981 paper by British researcher Lorna Wing, which challenged the previously accepted model of autism presented by Leo Kanner in 1943.[4] Unlike Kanner, Hans Asperger's findings were ignored and disregarded in the English-speaking world in his lifetime. Finally, from the early 1990s, his findings began to gain notice, and nowadays Asperger syndrome is recognized as a diagnosis in a large part of the world.

One of Asperger's patients was Austrian writer and Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Elfriede Jelinek.[5]

Dr. Hans Asperger's birthday, February 18, has been declared International Asperger's Day and is observed by various autism-related organizations.[6]

[edit] Papers
Asperger H (1938). "Das psychisch abnormale Kind [The psychically abnormal child]" (in German). Wien Klin Wochenschr 51: 1314–7.
Asperger H (1968). "[On the differential diagnosis of early infantile autism]" (in German). Acta Paedopsychiatr 35 (4): 136–45. PMID 4880461.
Asperger H (1974). "[Early infantile autism]" (in German). Med Klin 69 (49): 2024–7. PMID 4444665.
Asperger H (1977). "[The lived life. 50 years of pediatrics]" (in German). Padiatr Padol 12 (3): 214–23. PMID 331197.
[edit] External link
Meeting with Hans Asperger [1]
[edit] References
1.^ a b c Lyons V, Fitzgerald M (2007). "Did Hans Asperger (1906–1980) have Asperger Syndrome?". J Autism Dev Disord 37 (10): 2020–1. doi:10.1007/s10803-007-0382-4. PMID 17917805.
2.^ Osborne L (2002). American Normal: The Hidden World of Asperger Syndrome. Copernicus. p. 19. ISBN 0-387-95307-8.
3.^ Asperger H; tr. and annot. Frith U (1991) [1944]. "'Autistic psychopathy' in childhood". in Frith U. Autism and Asperger syndrome. Cambridge University Press. pp. 37–92. ISBN 0-521-38608-X.
4.^ Wing L (1981). "Asperger's syndrome: a clinical account". Psychol Med 11 (1): 115–29. doi:10.1017/S0033291700053332. PMID 7208735. http://www.mugsy.org/wing2.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-15.
5.^ Meyer, V., Koberg, R.: Elfriede Jelinek: Ein Porträt. Rowohlt 2006, p. 32
6.^ http://www.aagw.net/intyear.asp


8)


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14 Jun 2010, 7:25 pm

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Dr. Asperger did not believe women could exhibit the syndrome -


sigh. . . :roll:


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14 Jun 2010, 7:53 pm

I've heard that Asperger was tasked with his studies by the Third Reich's eugenics experts. The Nazis had an elaborate system to sift "undesirables" from "Aryans" and destroy the former, as we all know. Supposedly, the Nazis had come across the "little professors" in the course of their grand scheme to create the Aryan Ubermensch, and were divided on how to proceed with them.

Some, but not all, were Jews, which mystified the Nazis, who believed that Jews were a different, inferior species of human. The knowledge bases of the "professors" were deep but narrow, another odd trait, since Hitler taught that geniuses were geniuses in many things, not just one thing. Hitler himself was supposedly the archetype of the Aryan ubermensch, despite his very non-Aryan morphology, and Nazi propaganda continually painted a picture of him and other top leaders as superhumans.

Anyway, the Nazis couldn't decide whether the young males (they never noticed the females) should stay or go, so they asked Asperger to settle the question. He came down on the side of keeping them around, believing that their obsessions could make them useful to the Reich as perfectors of Nazi technology. Modernists wholeheartedly believed in the redemptive power of technology, and the Nazis had sorted knowledge into "Jewish" and "Aryan" fields of study. (They thought physics was Jewish, which might have cost them the war.) Asperger thought that by steering these little professors into Aryan fields of study, the Reich would benefit.

Alas, when Asperger's school was bombed, it's likely that most of his test subjects died. So that's likely what happened to them: They died when their school was bombed by the Allies.



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16 Jun 2010, 4:23 pm

Molecular_Biologist wrote:


Great find! Thanks for that. Haven't had time to read the whole article yet, but looking forward to it! :D


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ooOoOoOAnaOoOoOoo
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16 Jun 2010, 4:33 pm

Pezar wrote:
Supposedly, the Nazis had come across the "little professors" in the course of their grand scheme to create the Aryan Ubermensch, and were divided on how to proceed with them.

is why H. Asperger wrote:

sartresue wrote:
“We are convinced, then, that autistic people have their place in the organism of the social community. They fulfil their role well, perhaps better than anyone else could, and we are talking of people who as children had the greatest difficulties and caused untold worries to their care-givers.[3]


it's a good thing he wrote that review.



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16 Jun 2010, 4:49 pm

pezar wrote:
I've heard that Asperger was tasked with his studies by the Third Reich's eugenics experts. The Nazis had an elaborate system to sift "undesirables" from "Aryans" and destroy the former, as we all know. Supposedly, the Nazis had come across the "little professors" in the course of their grand scheme to create the Aryan Ubermensch, and were divided on how to proceed with them.

Some, but not all, were Jews, which mystified the Nazis, who believed that Jews were a different, inferior species of human. The knowledge bases of the "professors" were deep but narrow, another odd trait, since Hitler taught that geniuses were geniuses in many things, not just one thing. Hitler himself was supposedly the archetype of the Aryan ubermensch, despite his very non-Aryan morphology, and Nazi propaganda continually painted a picture of him and other top leaders as superhumans.

Anyway, the Nazis couldn't decide whether the young males (they never noticed the females) should stay or go, so they asked Asperger to settle the question. He came down on the side of keeping them around, believing that their obsessions could make them useful to the Reich as perfectors of Nazi technology. Modernists wholeheartedly believed in the redemptive power of technology, and the Nazis had sorted knowledge into "Jewish" and "Aryan" fields of study. (They thought physics was Jewish, which might have cost them the war.) Asperger thought that by steering these little professors into Aryan fields of study, the Reich would benefit.

Alas, when Asperger's school was bombed, it's likely that most of his test subjects died. So that's likely what happened to them: They died when their school was bombed by the Allies.


I've often speculated (and reasonably so I think, given the timing of Asperger's studies), whether his funding originated with the Third Reich. You say that you "heard" it was, and I do think it's reasonable to assume that it was. It also may explain why it wasn't taken very seriously by post WWII cultures for so long. I'm sure, if its true, which it probably is, that speculation over any research done with Nazi funding probably should have been considered reasonable as well.

On the other hand, if you read his paper (and I have read Uta Frith's translation at least - though I have his original paper too, thanks to a user here, but am not fluent in German), there is no indication in his writing that he was influenced at all by Third Reich ideology. He may have been, but there is something to consider even if he was.

The Nazis were obsessed with wiping out supposedly inferior human life forms, which was a totally inexcusable and despicable way of thinking. Asperger though, defended the "Autistic" individuals he studied with quite a lot of diplomacy and scientific reasoning in my opinion. Given that the propensity of the Nazi regime was to "weed out" any and all undesirables from their society, I would imagine that excluding anyone with behaviors matching AS from that "weeding out" process, would be a pretty hard sell. Yet Asperger managed to do just that. He managed, it seems. to convince even the Nazis that individuals with mild forms of high-functioning Autism were of value to even the Nazi ideal of a "perfect" society. What his motivations were, and whether his intentions were to simply defend those whom he may have felt could not defend themselves, or maybe his intentions were to make certain the Nazi ideal wasn't "short-changed" by excluding the genius he saw in his studies, is a mystery to me.

In the end, others took what he learned, and expounded upon it later in far more accepting societies, also finding Aspies have value, and may need some help in offering that value to whatever societies they find themselves in.

A lot of sickening methods were used by the Nazis to conduct "scientific" studies. I haven't seen anything in Asperger's writings alone to indicate that any such sickening and despicable means were used in his methodologies.

According to the link posted above, it seems that quite a few of his subjects did survive the war. Interesting stuff, all of it! :D


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Last edited by MrXxx on 16 Jun 2010, 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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16 Jun 2010, 4:49 pm

MrXxx wrote:
Molecular_Biologist wrote:


Great find! Thanks for that. Haven't had time to read the whole article yet, but looking forward to it! :D


Researcher brought the message of hope topic

Too bad we are too late for this conference. But here's hoping there will be another one. :)


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16 Jun 2010, 5:17 pm

sartresue wrote:
“We are convinced, then, that autistic people have their place in the organism of the social community. They fulfil their role well, perhaps better than anyone else could, and we are talking of people who as children had the greatest difficulties and caused untold worries to their care-givers.[3]


You know, that statement, which I have read before, but now see it in a slightly different light, given the prospect that his report probably was for the Nazi regime, gives rise to a few mixed feelings and some genuine realizations.

The most sickening feeling it gives me comes from a bit of speculation on why the Nazis might have been interested in Asperger's case studies.

Aspies are still known for being something of outcasts, misunderstood by the societies in which they live. If you've ever read much about Hitler himself, and most of his highest ranking cronies, you would know that many, if not most of them, were outcasts themselves. Some of them, including Hitler himself (obviously) were narcissistic psychopaths, who only were able to find an audience for their insane ideals because of the "perfect storm" of historical events surrounding the rise of the Third Reich. It occurs to me the only reason those nutcases were even interested in studying Autistics in their society, was [possibly] because they may have identified themselves with many of the antisocial behaviors displayed by the boys Asperger studied.

On the one hand, I don't really care why they were chosen to be studied, but only that they were, else we wouldn't know as much as we now do about Aspger's Syndrome. On the other hand, the prospect of men like that identifying with people like us, sickens me. If, that is, why the boys were chosen to be studied. It's just speculation on my part, but the possibility sure as hell makes me feel uncomfortable.


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16 Jun 2010, 6:19 pm

MrXxx wrote:
[Aspies are still known for being something of outcasts, misunderstood by the societies in which they live. If you've ever read much about Hitler himself, and most of his highest ranking cronies, you would know that many, if not most of them, were outcasts themselves. Some of them, including Hitler himself (obviously) were narcissistic psychopaths, who only were able to find an audience for their insane ideals because of the "perfect storm" of historical events surrounding the rise of the Third Reich. It occurs to me the only reason those nutcases were even interested in studying Autistics in their society, was [possibly] because they may have identified themselves with many of the antisocial behaviors displayed by the boys Asperger studied.

.


It seems equally likely if not more likely that what the Nazis were intrigued by was nascent technical skills in these children, rather than outsider, antisocial qualities. They were, after all, "divided on what to do with them". That means that they saw things they didn't like in balance with things they did. Do you really think the Nazis would embrace kids who were not "team players"? Their whole plan depended on people getting with and staying with the program. I think it's more likely that the childrens' antisocial behaviours were a major strike against them but Hans Asperger made a convincing case that their technical interests would make them excellent weapons designers and the Nazis spared them in spite of rather than because of their social differences.



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16 Jun 2010, 7:10 pm

Janissy wrote:
MrXxx wrote:
[Aspies are still known for being something of outcasts, misunderstood by the societies in which they live. If you've ever read much about Hitler himself, and most of his highest ranking cronies, you would know that many, if not most of them, were outcasts themselves. Some of them, including Hitler himself (obviously) were narcissistic psychopaths, who only were able to find an audience for their insane ideals because of the "perfect storm" of historical events surrounding the rise of the Third Reich. It occurs to me the only reason those nutcases were even interested in studying Autistics in their society, was [possibly] because they may have identified themselves with many of the antisocial behaviors displayed by the boys Asperger studied.

.


It seems equally likely if not more likely that what the Nazis were intrigued by was nascent technical skills in these children, rather than outsider, antisocial qualities. They were, after all, "divided on what to do with them". That means that they saw things they didn't like in balance with things they did. Do you really think the Nazis would embrace kids who were not "team players"? Their whole plan depended on people getting with and staying with the program. I think it's more likely that the childrens' antisocial behaviours were a major strike against them but Hans Asperger made a convincing case that their technical interests would make them excellent weapons designers and the Nazis spared them in spite of rather than because of their social differences.


A syndrome by any other name topic

In studing AS I have not yet come to terms with the man behind the syndrome. I have mixed feelings about Dr. Hans, though I have not condemned him the same way as I have done to Martin Heidegger, a known nazi sympathizer, and philosopher, and certain German physicists who sought refuge in the US after WW2.

If Dr Hans himself was AS, then why did he not see what nazism was, or escape as did Freud, Einstein, and others who disagreed with the government. Asperger was not Jewish, but he must have seen what happened to Austrian Jews. It pains me to think he might have even welcomed the Anschluss (annexing Austria with the greater reich), but again, he was most likely apolitical, and very likely an antisemite. Nothing tangible remains to prove these characteristics either way. His descendents, from whom we have heard little if anything, have not spoken about this, and may not even know.


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16 Jun 2010, 7:18 pm

Sincerely, I have much doubts about this stories of "Nazis wanted to kill Aspies", or the opposite version, "Nazis are very interested in Aspies".

My first bet is that, at the time, nazi authorities (like everybody else, btw) probably ignored the studies of an obscure Viennese pediatrician.

About the role ot Hans Asperger in saving the kids from euthanasia project - it is a possibility, but:

- The "Project T4" (extermination of diabled people) was officially canceled in 1941 (althoug non-systematic executions continued until the end of the war)

- I suspect that these theory is an attempt to devalue the positive opinion of Hans Asperger about the "autistic psychopats" (some thing like "much of the Asperger writings about the gifts of autistics was basically a trick to save the lifes of their patients")

I have the idea that Uta Frith is one of the bigger proponents of the "Asperger trying to save the kids from the nazis" theory; and I think Frith is also one of the researchers who most see "Asperger's Syndrome" as a "disease" (unlike others, who see it more as a "difference"); then it is natural that Frith wants to devaluate the "gifts" of "Aspies".

[I hope that you could understand my confuse English and my confuse theory]



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16 Jun 2010, 7:18 pm

sinsboldly wrote:
Quote:
Dr. Asperger did not believe women could exhibit the syndrome -


sigh. . . :roll:


Don't worry, he admitted it later on that females could have it.

Anyway, even if the research wasn't lost, patient confidentiality would keep the individuals under wraps unless they came forward.

TPE2,

Han had just as much bad to say as good in his paper.



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16 Jun 2010, 7:54 pm

Janissy wrote:
Do you really think the Nazis would embrace kids who were not "team players"?


Absolutely I do! In order for the Nazis to even become "team players," they had to form their own team which previously had not existed as a socially acceptable entity. As a matter of history, if you study how they came to power to begin with, it had nothing whatever to do with "fitting in" with established norms of the time. They had to stage a virtual coup in order to seize power where they did not legally have it. They did so through extremely antisocial behavior, beating and threatening anyone who disagreed with them up to and including murdering them, even before they seized ultimate power.

Janissy wrote:
Their whole plan depended on people getting with and staying with the program. I think it's more likely that the childrens' antisocial behaviours were a major strike against them but Hans Asperger made a convincing case that their technical interests would make them excellent weapons designers and the Nazis spared them in spite of rather than because of their social differences.


I firmly disagree with this assessment. The Nazis seized power not through subtle and/or truly diplomatic influence, but through extremely psychotic and antisocial maneuvers. Intimidation was their modus operandae, never diplomacy. "Diplomacy," by their definition, pretty much meant, "cooperate with us or die!" whether that meant literal death or death by destroying people's careers or at least their ability to make a decent living and support their families.

Nazi tactics were as about as terroristic as terrorism can be. Torture was routine. Summary execution was routine. Beatings were routine. Intimidation was the rule. Right from the beginning they sought out and recruited like minded psychopathic thugs and murderers as long as they could help further the cause of the regime. Sure, there were those they also sought out who could at least present the illusion of diplomacy and social acceptance, but history proves they were anything but socially acceptable, The vast majority of Germans wanted nothing to do with Hitler or his regime and only cooperated to avoid a bullet in the head or the threat of their children having no future.

It wasn't the "diplomatic surface" representatives the rest of the world saw that ordered studies done on Jews in the concentration camps that involved repeatedly smashing the legs and arms of children just to find out how many times it could be done before the bones would no longer heal. all without anesthetics I might add. It was the sick psychotic mental cases who bought into Aryan supremacy that did. I think it highly unlikely that anyone other than those same sick people probably ordered (if it were the Nazis at all, that is), the study of Asperger's subjects. If it were them, they themselves had already experienced being outcasts, and "oddballs," and quite likely identified with those Autistic kids.

Yes, I agree that their whole plan depended on people "getting with the program," but "the program" was designed, implemented and maintained by some of the sickest individuals this world has ever known. Not acceptable by any standards of normalcy even at the time. If they were accepted, then they might not have been pounded to rubble, dismantled and hunted down for decades to come, even to this day. If they were the ones who ordered the study, surely all they really cared about was whether Autistics could be used by the Reich to further their aims, regardless of their apparent social deficiencies. What I'm saying is, I highly doubt the Nazi hierarchy would have even considered Aspie social characteristics as defects, but rather as "strengths" that could be exploited. Not in daily life necessarily, but if it were ever needed, it was there, and could be exploited. People predisposed to antisocial behavior will, by nature, vent that tendency if given an outlet with which to vent it for which there is no consequence for venting. (That's my paraphrasing of how they probably looked at it, not how I do - I think if they had had the time to attempt exploitation of Aspies, they would probably have been severely disappointed at what we sometimes refer to as a "powerful moral compass" so many of us supposedly have)

The evidence for their seeking out anti social types is easily seen just by studying the characteristics of those they recruited during the early development of the party. Whether or not doing so was calculated, deliberate and conscious is another discussion, and irrelevant to this discussion. I think it was deliberate, but even if it weren't, it still could have been a subconscious reason for their interest in Autistics.

A lot of "ifs" in there though. Like I said, I'm not entirely sure the Nazis actually ordered the study to begin with, but it seems likely considering when the study was performed.


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