Dear Hans Asperger;
Recent events in my life have brought your name to my attention. You see having been given a recent diagnosis that associates with your name I was compelled to seek you out. I should tell you that I did not bravely come out willingly but was more or less outed. Denial of my condition gave way to realization then slowly a defiant acceptance. I am an Aspie. Naturally I will lay claim to a higher intellect that often rises in the autistic spectrum. I have lived my life as a eccentric creative artist in multiple mediums. The list goes something like this, teacher, artist, photographer, musician, actor, research scientist, web designer, film producer, graphic novelist, etc. Add the new world of virtual reality, artificial intelligence and all the endless programs I need to support all that. One would expect my head to explode at any moment. People have written about you and your considerable contributions to our current understanding of autism. A scientist friend of mine, lets call him Sheldon, razed concerns that this letter may not reach you back in the 1940s so I have taken the liberty of going back in time to place it on your desk just under your lunch box. The strudel your wife made you was delightful. Should you respond to this letter please send it on to the year 2031, May 30th (the day Sheldon and I invented the time machine) along with your wife’s strudel recipe. I sit at your oak desk writing trying to find the right words without misspelling anything.
You were born and raised on a farm just outside Vienna, Austria. As the elder of two sons, you were preconditioned to look after those younger than yourself. Your family considered you a lonely, remote child. Hans, I’m really sorry I wasn’t around back then, I too could have used a close friend at that age. I would have advised you not to engage your fellow classmates concerning your passion for poetry. They weren’t really listening. Repeatedly quoting yourself no mater how profound it sounds to you just seemed to have annoyed them even further. Been there. I can understand your habit of referred to your self from a third-person perspective. A lot of people with mild autism are known to do this. With practice you learned to control these behaviours. After graduating as a doctor of medicine in 1931, you began practicing at the University Children’s Hospital in Vienna. Highly regarded in your field in 1932 you were appointed director of the special education section at the university’s children’s clinic in Vienna. My observation here is when someone chooses to study medicine you make a conscious choice to dedicate your life to helping others. When you choose to treat children it goes deeper. A man like you started looking for answers, applying your research, finding a way to treat not only the one, but the many. Your career was on track and you were doing what you were meant to do. Someplace in this time you found the right girl, got married and started a family. Together you will have 5 children of your own. Good on you Hans. The year is 1935. This will be the last sane moment for a long time. Something very bad is about to happen. WARNING TO READERS – Some of you may want to stop here.
Hitler comes to power. He’s been training his Hitler’s youth organization for years and now they are all grown up. Brown shirted fanatics and SS officers dressed in dashing black HUGO BOSS uniforms descend on newly annexed Austria. It is a cult of death. Many of the staff at Vienna’s hospitals are of Jewish descent. The lucky ones get out while they can. The others and their families are hunted down and sent to camps. Suspected homosexuals get the same treatment. Anyone who speaks out are tried and executed, or they just disappear. In the name of racial purification the Nazi’s call for the euthanasia of disabled children and adults. This is the beginning of the Holocaust. Doctors ordered to report disabled children see them taken away to be administered lethal injections. You were there Han’s. To speak out is your death while to do nothing would mean the death of the children you care for.
It’s at this point I’d like to think of myself standing in your place. I close my eyes and I see it. A mildly autistic man not facing down a single bully in a school room, but the greatest evil our world has ever known. I have spent my life trying to understand how people think. My mind is the only weapon I have. I must don a mask to hide my true self and appear to be compliant. Speaking softly I choose my words carefully, preying that at the right moment I can save someone. I would need to convince these monsters that somehow this new Germany had need of these special children.
From the limited amount of information available it seems to me you went that way too. I love that you started calling the children your little professors and how they would be good at engineering or code breaking. Smooth move Hans. I'm still sitting at your desk writing this. I wonder if you have brandy in the bottom drawer. There's shouting just outside the door.
Shit! Sheldon's running down the hallway. Hospital orderlies, armed with a straight jacket are bounding after him.
- to be continued
Dear Hans; continuing our letter. The Russian front sucks by the way, but I guess you know that. Winter is a bitch in war. Sorry it took so long to get literally back to you. Time travel is not a very precise way to get around. We put out a bug report here in 2033 but none of the other aspies can work it out on the neuro net. That’s how we communicate now. A team of enhanced autistics got that going some years back. Turns out a lot of us really are telepathic after all, who knew? The vid (that’s like a movie to you) of Sheldon and I bursting into the nurses change room and leaping into our time machine has gone mega viro. A major complication was that one of the hospital orderlies tumbling in after us. Gunther’s all right, not very bright as an NT but he’s a gentle fellow really. Once I got him to take the straight jacket off Sheldon they became the best of friend. Gunther’s family had a bakery in Dresden Germany. We Googled it and found out they all burned up in the last days of the war. Seems our side didn’t want the Russians the have an intact German city so we dropped everything we had it. Killed more people in one night than both nukes we used on the Japanese. People do bad things in wars. It’s the lowest we can go you know. Gunther’s not cool with it. He misses his mother. He wants me to tell you all this so you can somehow stop this all from happening, but you can’t. The first thing we found out with time travel is you can’t change anything. What happens just does. It worked out though. Gunther went back the Germany and met a girl. They opened a coffee shop and are having a baby. Sheldon offered to take him back to his own time but I lied and told him he’s better off here. We autistics keep trying to fix this world while the NT’s keep messing it up. My disguise is holding up. I look like just another wounded solder. You didn’t see me lay this note on your cot; you were tending to the wounded in the field of something and honestly I’m a little afraid of all those guns out there. The point of these letters is to thank you for what you have done for us aspies. You saw something in our ability’s other’s refused to acknowledge. Your patient and caring approach to the treatment for autism in later years set the path to recognition of the neuro diverse population. I have to go again. I left Sheldon in the camp latrine. I promised I’d bring back some paper so that’s why this notes torn off at the end. More later.
They rebuilt Dresden of course. Gunther's bakery and coffee shop is just to the right where the lights are.