Edith Sheffer

Edith Sheffer
Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna
Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna, investigates Hans Asperger’s creation of the autism diagnosis in the Third Reich, and is forthcoming in May 2018. It examines Nazi psychiatry’s emphasis on social spirit and Asperger’s involvement in the euthanasia program that killed children considered to be disabled.
Burned Bridge: How East and West Germans Made the Iron Curtain
Edith Sheffer
Palo Alto, CA
Edith Sheffer is a historian of Germany and central Europe, and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of European Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her most recent book, Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna (W. W. Norton, May 2018) investigates Hans Asperger’s creation of the autism diagnosis in the Third Reich, examining Nazi psychiatry’s emphasis on social spirit and Asperger’s involvement in the euthanasia program that killed children considered to be disabled. Sheffer’s first book, Burned Bridge: How East and West Germans Made the Iron Curtain (Oxford University Press, 2011) was awarded three prizes, including the American Historical Association’s Paul Birdsall Prize. The book challenges the moral myth of the Berlin Wall, the Cold War’s central symbol — revealing how the Iron Curtain was not simply imposed by Communism, but emerged from the everyday actions of ordinary people. Sheffer’s next book, Hidden Front: Switzerland and World War Two, tells an in-depth history of a nation whose pivotal role remains unexposed yet was decisive in the course of the Second World War. The recipient of five teaching awards, Sheffer has also developed a method, Creating Lives, in which students craft a fictional historical character throughout a course, shaping the life paths of their characters through weekly diary entries. The method has been widely acclaimed and adapted in community colleges, and high schools, and universities.

Asperger’s Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna, W. W. Norton, 2018
Burned Bridge: How East and West Germans Made the Iron Curtain, Oxford University Press, 2011.
“Creating Lives in the Classroom,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 22, 2009
“Creating Lives: Fictional Characters in the History Classroom,” with Kathryn Ciancia, Perspectives on History, October 2013