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FAQ: Deaf people in history   Tags: deaf, faq  

This guide covers Laurent Clerc's writings, Helen Keller's quotations, slavery, the Nobel Prize, the Gallaudet Family, the Holocaust, and the Civil War.
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The Holocaust Print Page


Scope: This bibliography includes not only information about deaf Jews caught up in the general Nazi genocide of Jews, but also on deaf people, not necessarily Jews, who were forcibly sterilized or "euthanized" as part of the Nazi policy of racial eugenics aimed at weeding out "defectives".

Call numbers are to books in the Gallaudet University Library. Call numbers in other libraries may differ; consult the catalogs of those libraries or ask one of their librarians.

  • Baldwin, Steve C. "Genocide & deafness". The voice, vol.4 no.4 (May/June 1988), p.7-11.Baldwin first summarizes various forms of "genocide" practiced against deaf people throughout history, then leads into the experiences of deaf Germans during World War II and the Nazi attempts to sterilize deaf people and to prevent them from marrying in order to "purify" the "Aryan race". He cites from the experience of the deaf German, Hartmut Teubner, who, although only 4 years old when the war ended, learned in the postwar years of the experiences that deaf people had to go through during the Third Reich. A sidebar summarizes the life and Holocaust experience of deaf Jewish artist David Bloch, and the article is illustrated with several of Bloch's Holocaust-inspired artworks.


  • Beck, Ellen. "Eugene Bergman: deaf survivor". Deaf American, vol.35 no.3 (1982), p.4-6.Tells of deaf Polish Jew Eugene Bergman's wartime experiences, including the Warsaw Ghetto and his family's escape from its destruction, his participation with the Polish insurgents fighting the Germans, his escape from death when he was discovered to be Jewish in a German POW camp, and his eventual emigration, with surviving members of his family, to America. [Also see the second article by Vickie Walter, below.]


  • Biesold, Horst. Crying hands: eugenics and deaf people in Nazi Germany. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press, 1999. (DEAF 940.5318 B53c 1999)A history of the eugenics movement and how it was seized upon by the Nazis to justify their aims of "racial purification" by, among other things, the elimination of deaf people by sterilization or killing. Also covered is the REGEDE (German Union of the Deaf) and other deaf organizations that were taken over or established by the Nazis, and other deaf collaborators in the persecution of the deaf.


  • Biesold, Horst. "The fate of the Israelite Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb in Berlin." In Fischer, Renate, and Lane, Harlan, Looking back: a reader on the history of deaf communities and their sign languages. Hamburg: Signum Press, 1993, p.157-169. (DEAF 305.7 L66 1993)Biesold outlines this Jewish-run school's history from its roots in 1857 to its becoming one of Europe's best schools for the deaf, to the persecution of its staff and students in the 1930s, to its destruction by the Nazis in 1942.


  • Biesold, Horst. Forgotten or concealed? Deaf Nazi-victims accuse. Bremen, Germany: University of Bremen, no date but probably 1980's. (DEAF 940.5318 B53f)


  • Biesold, Horst. Unrecognised, persecuted, driven out and exterminated: The Jewish deaf in Germany. s.n., s.l., no date but probably 1980's. (DEAF 940.5318 B53u)Transcripts of two speeches by a German professor seeking wider recognition of those forgotten victims. [Also see the Ernest Gill article below.]


  • Bohlman, Lynne. "Images of darkness, flickers of light". NTID focus(Fall 1989), p.22-23.Tells of a program held at the Rochester Institute for the Deaf in April 1989, at which participants learned of the experiences of deaf people during the Holocaust. Three deaf survivors share their stories, and some of the program attendees tell of their reactions and feelings upon learning of this forgotten history.


  • Deaf mosaic #309[videorecording]. (Purchase available from Gallaudet University Television.) (Gallaudet Library VHS 1142)This tape from a Gallaudet University-produced variety show for the deaf includes a segment on deaf Holocaust survivor Stanley Teger, who came to America to establish a new life after the war.


  • Deaf mosaic #403[videorecording]. (Purchase available from Gallaudet University Television.) (Gallaudet Library VHS 1148)This tape includes a segment on the traveling exhibit In der Nacht, which tells the story of Holocaust survivor Rose Feld and her husband Max, who did not survive, augmented by the experiences of other Holocaust survivors. [Also see In der Nachtbelow.]


  • Friedman, Ina R. The other victims: first-person stories of non-Jews persecuted by the Nazis. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. (DEAF 940.5316 F7o 1990)Chapter 5, "Franziska: a silent protest against sterilization" (p.63-76), tells of the Nazi campaign to eliminate "defectives", including deaf people, through eugenics, and the experiences of a deaf woman who wanted to have a baby but was forced to have an abortion and then sterilization.


  • Gill, Ernest. "Horst Biesold: helping the survivors". Deaf American, vol.35 no.8 (1983), p.7-8.How a German teacher of the deaf stumbled upon the previously-hidden story of the treatment of deaf people during the Third Reich, and began the research, discoveries, and publicization of the story. Biesold tells of incidents he has found of acceptance, betrayal, and resistance to the Nazi plans for the deaf. His efforts finally resulted in the West German government authorizing a one-time restitution to surviving deaf victims of forced sterilization.


  • In der Nacht: visions of deaf survivors of Nazi oppression. A photo-narrative exhibit on indefinite display in the Edward Miner Gallaudet Building, Gallaudet University.Told largely through the scrapbooks of a deaf Holocaust survivor who lost her young husband, with side exhibits on eugenics in the U.S. and Germany, forced sterilization, and the destruction of one of Europe's best schools for the deaf and its 142 students, simply because it was Jewish.


  • "A mother's courage defied the Nazis". Silent news, vol. 16 no. 5 (May 1984), p.18.The story of deaf Hilda Rattner and her efforts to get herself and her family, including other deaf members, out of Nazi-occupied Austria, barely one step ahead of being rounded up and sent to the camps. [This story is retold in different words by Lilly R. Shirey, below.]


  • Shirey, Lilly R. "Pre-Holocaust experience with a Jewish deaf family". Washington Society of Jewish Deaf Newsletter, vol.17 no.5 (August 1993, Av/Elul 5753), p.1, 12-13.Ms. Shirey, a deaf Austrian Jew and now an American citizen, recalls the harsh life for Jews in Vienna, Austria during the years after the Nazi takeover. She and her family managed to escape to America and get past the immigration barrier to deaf people at Ellis Island. [This family's story is also recounted in "A mother's courage defied the Nazis", above.]


  • Soudakoff, Sharon Ann. "History of deaf Holocaust victims." World Wide Web, Seen on May 5, 2009. JDCC news, issue #22 (Iyar/Sivan 5756, May/June 1996).Tells of events and efforts since the war to remember and memorialize deaf Holocaust victims.


  • Walter, Vickie. "In der Nacht", in Gallaudet today, vol.18 no.2 (Winter 1987-88), p.6-11.An article on the background and creation of the In der Nachtexhibit now at Gallaudet University.


  • Walter, Vickie. "Inside the madness: a deaf survivor remembers the Holocaust", in Gallaudet today, vol.18 no.2 (Winter 1987-88), p.2-5.The wartime story of now-retired Gallaudet professor and deaf Holocaust survivor Eugene Bergman. [Also see the article by Ellen Beck, above.]


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Prepared by Tom Harrington
Reference and Instruction Librarian
November 2000

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