Miho

Photo of a teenage Japanese girl wearing a school coat and backpack, smiling.Name: Miho (Family name unknown).
Died: July 26, 2016.
Age at death: 19.
Cause of death: Mass murder (Stabbing).
Location: Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan.

Details:
Miho was a friendly young woman who didn’t speak much, but was good at making friends. She “embraced life”, her family says. “She had a lovely smile and was adorable and a source of pride… the more time passes by, the stronger our desire to meet her again becomes.”

Miho liked music, and she was a fan of anime by Studio Ghibli, like Kiki’s Delivery Service and Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

As she grew older, Miho moved into a care facility; but whenever she visited home, she hated returning there so much that her family found her a different facility, a place called Tsuki Yamayurien, or Tsuki Lily Garden.

Three months after Miho moved in, a former employee of the facility broke in in the middle of the night. He tied up staff, then went room to room, cutting the throats of anyone who didn’t respond when he spoke to them. Miho was one of nineteen who were killed. Twenty-six were injured, thirteen of those severely.

The killer, who said he wanted disabled people killed for the good of the country, was sentenced to death for the mass murder.

References:
Care home worker slit throats of 19 sleeping disabled patients ‘to rid world’
Family names rampage victim so people will remember ‘Miho’:The Asahi Shimbun
>Family discloses name of victim in 2016 massacre at Japan care home

Disabled North Koreans

Multiple disabled North Koreans, Names Unknown
Died: Early 1990s; reported by a defector in 1999.
Age at death: All ages, primarily children.
Cause of death: Fatal biological and chemical weapons testing.
Location: North Korea.

Details:
As reported by defectors from North Korea, disabled North Koreans are considered to be unworthy of life. Disabled children are taken from their parents, either purchased or taken by force, and “disappear” into “closed hospitals”. Whether they are mentally or physically disabled, the government has decided that these North Koreans’ best contribution to their government is to be used for human biological and chemical weapons testing, which is usually fatal. The North Korean government prefers to claim that there are no disabled people in North Korea.

When famine strikes, the disabled are given no food rations, and most die. There are also reports that people with dwarfism were sent to a remote mountain village, with the men castrated, so that they could not have children; this village is now mostly deserted.

References:
North Korea’s disappeared: regime ‘performs experiments on disabled people before leaving them to die’
Under Kim Jong Un, North Korea Tested Chemical Weapons On Disabled Children, Defector Claims
KOREA Pyongyang using disabled children to test chemical and biological weapons

70,273 Aktion T4 Victims

T4Mass murder of a total of 70273 disabled victims, including about 3,500 autistic people, mostly children, mostly from Germany and Poland.
Died: January 20, 1940 to December 1944
Cause of death: Lethal injection, gassing, starvation, shooting, and others.

Details:
Aktion T4 was the Nazi involuntary euthanasia program that targeted Germans with disabilities–at first children, and eventually adults. It was part of the eugenics movement; Nazi ideology held that those who could not work were useless eaters and life unworthy of life. It was stressed that these people were a burden on their communities and would make Germany weak because they were so expensive to care for.

Parents were encouraged to send their disabled children to institutions, where they “could be better cared for”. These children, and later on adult patients of mental institutions, were sent to euthanasia clinics where they were killed, usually by lethal injection. Parents were sent a notice that their child had died of natural causes like measles or pneumonia.

A total of 70,273 people were killed in Aktion T4. Most were disabled or mentally ill; a few were political dissidents. Some of these people would have been autistic.

Germany had a population of approximately 70 million at the time, so the death rate from Aktion T4 was about 1:1000. In modern times, autism is known to affect about 1:100 people, and 16% of these have an IQ below 50. About 80% do not work. Since only 1:1000 Germans died in Aktion T4, it is possible to conclude that many autistic people either escaped death or were incarcerated in normal concentration camps as being “work-shy”.

Many of the less disabled autistics would have survived because they were never diagnosed with anything and were able to work. Others would have survived because they were female and their families helped them compensate for their deficits, since women were not necessarily expected to work outside the home. Hans Asperger first defined Asperger syndrome in the shadow of the Nazi regime, and part of his argument was that his autistic boys were talented and could be useful members of society; Asperger’s original patients survived the Holocaust. Unfortunately, the doctor also believed that those he saw as more disabled were not useful to the government and therefore were a burden. Accordingly, he sent these patients to institutions, where they were usually killed.

Both “feeble-mindedness” and inability to work would have made German autistic people more vulnerable to extermination by the Nazis, though some of the unemployed would have been labeled “work-shy” and incarcerated in the normal concentration camps.

The autistic people most likely to die in Aktion T4 would have been children with obvious autism, or whose autism was associated with epilepsy. Any institutionalized Jewish Germans, whether child or adult, would have been automatically selected for euthanasia. About one-third of autistics have epilepsy; about one-sixth have a moderate to profound intellectual disability. Both of those conditions raised the risk that a person would be selected. However, we don’t know what the true autism rate was in 1940s Germany, since at that point autism was not well-known. Most such autistics would have been simply labeled “feeble-minded”, “epileptic”, or in some cases “schizophrenic”.

It is possible to estimate roughly how many of the T4 victims were autistic. About 20% of people have a disability; about 1% of people have autism. Autism tends to be more severe, on average, than other disabilities; but a conservative estimate would be that about 5% of disabled people have autism. If 5% of the Aktion T4 victims were autistic, then the total number of autistic T4 victims would have been around 3,500.

Disabled German children were among the very first victims of the Holocaust. I have been trying to find profiles, to find out what these children were like, but it is a difficult search. Most of the Aktion T4 victims who are remembered today were not disabled, but were political dissidents. The stories of the disabled children who died seem to have, for the most part, faded into history. But they still deserve to be remembered.

Aktion T4, more than any other Nazi extermination program, drew widespread outrage from Germans. Though Nazi officials tried to hide the reality of the extermination program, parents began to find out and clergy began to speak against it. In response, the program was officially terminated in August of 1941, though the killing continued unofficially, in hospitals, institutions, and concentration camps, until the end of the war.

References:
Montana ASA, Autism Facts
IQ in children with autism
Chartbook on Disability in the US
Holocaust Encyclopedia, Euthanasia Program
Berlin unveils memorial for disabled Holocaust victims
Hans M. Wuerth: Hitler used chemicals to murder Germans
Scientists to identify Nazi disabled victim remains
Scientists to identify Nazi disabled victim remains (Update)
German scientists to identify Nazi disabled victim remains
German scientists to identify disabled victims of Hitler’s euthanasia program
The Nazi Plan to Kill the Disabled: What the U.S. Government Knew and When It Knew It
Hans Asperger assisted Nazi regime of euthanasia, report claims

Ulrike Mayerhofer

Name: Ulrike Mayerhofer.
Died: June 26, 1944.
Age at death: 5.
Cause of death: Murder/Genocide (Neglect and overmedication during Nazi extermination of disabled children).
Location: Vienna, Austria.

Details:
Ulrike was diagnosed with autism and intellectual disability by Hans Asperger in Nazi-occupied Vienna. He said she was a “severe burden” at home and sent her to an institution.

Eventually, Ulrike was sent to Spiegelgrund, one of the euthanasia facilities where the Nazi government killed disabled children by starvation and overmedication. How she died is unknown, but her date of death is recorded as six months after she was sent to Spiegelgrund.

References:
Asperger’s Syndrome, the Nazi Regime and the Dangerous Power of Labeling People
Hans Asperger, National Socialism, and “race hygiene” in Nazi-era Vienna
Totenbuch Spiegelgrund