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World War II, Deaf History of

  • By: Patti Durr
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

World War II affected many nations and peoples all over the globe, especially in the Asian and European spheres, as well as in North America, yet little is known about the deaf experience during the war.

Europe

One of the first laws that Adolf Hitler passed in his quest for an Aryan race was the “Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring” in 1933. This ordinance targeted for sterilization any person in Germany suspected of having a hereditary disease such as schizophrenia, manic-depressive psychosis, Huntington’s chorea, epilepsy, blindness, deafness, severe physical deformity, feeble-mindedness, or severe alcoholism. If a targeted woman was already pregnant, she was forced to have an abortion. Approximately 350,000 to 400,000 disabled people (17,000 of whom were deaf) were sterilized under this ...

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