Deaf People in the Holocaust Essay
To some people the Holocaust is recognized as the killing of the Jews. Adolf Hitler had his idea of how the world should be and he was determined to make that happen with his Nazi followers. What most people don’t realize is that more than just Jewish people were victims that lost their lives. Anyone in Europe during this time who had some sort of disability was eligible to become a victim of Hitler and maybe lose their life as well.
Adolf Hitler thought these people were “polluting his country” and at the beginning of his killing spree, he wanted to rid Germany of all disabled people.
Deafness was among these disabilities. Deaf people during this time were considered “useless and unworthy of kindness. ” Hitler wanted them gone. (Levinson) The Holocaust was a hard time for anyone who had to endure in it. In order for the Jews to stay alive, they had to battle against tough-to-survive conditions, such as: hunger, filth, disease, ceaseless work, and endless brutality.
Can you imagine how complicated it was for a person who was unable to speak and hear to survive?
They had to be aware of their surroundings at all times. If a deaf person were to make it obvious that they were disabled, it is likely that they would be killed the instant a Nazi discovered the person’s deafness. Hitler believed that deafness was a hereditary disease that comes from the genes of a parent. He believed that sterilizing deaf people would lessen the likeliness of a deaf infant being born. “Over 1500 deaf people were killed and thousands of people were forcibly sterilized. ” (Berke).
People of all age groups were sterilized, if they refused, they would be forced. The youngest sterilization is a deaf child of the age of nine and the oldest is a man of fifty. Deaf children were commonly allowed to skip sterilization as long as they attended a private school and stayed on campus. Abortions were even obligated if the mother was anywhere between eight to nine months pregnant. Nearly half of the surviving people who were sterilized are females. The Nazi people would write letters to the deaf people about sterilizing them.
They told them “trust in God and that they, the Nazis, were working for God. So trusting the Nazis was like trusting in God. ” (Biesold 39) After going through the painful experience of sterilization, deaf people were not even allowed to talk about the process that they endured. Most people in Germany were completely oblivious to how the “ill and disabled” people were treated and the Nazis did not want them finding out. The Nazis thought that the fewer people aware of the mistreatments, the better.
They feared that the healthy people would rebel and refuse to do the Nazis requests. There were different ways that a doctor could sterilize patients; however, the patient did not have the option to choose. The most common way for a male to be sterilized was a vasectomy and for a female, an incision was made into the abdomen and the Fallopian tubes (needed to reproduce) were cut out or severely crushed. On the other hand, some doctors even wanted maximum assurance that the female could not get pregnant, so they removed the entire uterus.
Removing the uterus was also less traumatic to the female, but it was also rarely used because it failed to be successful. Even when the Holocaust was over, the procedure had a life changing effect. Some of the surviving females said that their boyfriends, fiances, husbands, etc. , left them because they had the “Hitler Cut”. (Levinson) As Hitler started to gain more control over different parts of Europe, he decided that deaf people could fall into the same category as the Jews, Gypsies, and other disabled people.
Therefore, they were all sent to the same concentration camps. Even though they were all in the same camps, the deaf people still had to be discreet because the deaf Jews were punished more than the nondisabled ones. The instant a Nazi discovered that a person couldn’t hear, that person was immediately murdered. The hearing people in the same camp would often try to help the deaf people by secretly writing the deaf person’s name in the dirt whenever their name was called for roll. Mostovy) When World War II officially started, Hitler and the Nazis gave up on sterilizations and did mass murders, causing not only disabled people to be killed, but also the Jews and the Gypsies. When it came down to the deaf children and infants, nurses took them to a separate ward and overdosed them until they were dead or even starved them.
The nurses told the parents that they were really be taking to a different ward where they had curable treatments for their disability. (Biesold 8) Nazis looked at deaf people as isabled and less than human. The deaf survivors of the Holocaust were never the same. Out of the thousands that were killed, the deaf people definitely endured the hardest times of all. Jewish deaf people have survived and beat the rules of Hitler and his eugenics used in Germany. Due to the fact that deaf people are still living today and are accepted as normal, Hitler did not win. Being deaf is not a disability, it’s a difference. A difference that is accepted today as normal in this world.
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