Pushing Limits

Disability in Nazi Germany – Pushing Limits – December 4, 2020

Kenny Fries, circa 2017. Photo by Michael R. Dekker.


Disability writer and teacher Kenny Fries discusses the plight of German people with disabilities during the Nazi era.  At least 200,000 people with a wide range of disabilities were murdered in an attempt to cleanse “Third Reich” society.   At the same time, disabled German war veterans were feted with honors by the Nazi regime.   It was arguably the worst modern tragedy to occur to the disabled community.


“Unlike the Holocaust, there are no T4 survivors. We know about T4 and its aftermath mainly through medical records and from the perpetrators. . . That is the main reason I write about what happened to disabled people during the Third Reich . . . This is my way of bridging the silence, of keeping alive something that is too often forgotten.”   Kenny Fries


This history should never be forgotten and Pushing Limits is pleased to have Kenny Fries fresh from a Fulbright Lecture titled, “Bridging the Silence,” about his Aktion T4 research.  That research led to his video project “What Happened Here in the Summer of 1940?” and his forthcoming book “Stumbling over History: Disability and the Holocaust.”


Kenny Fries received the Creative Capital literature award for In the Province of the Gods. He is the author of Body, Remember: A Memoir and The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin’s Theory, and the editor of Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the

Inside Out. He teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Goddard College.

Kenny’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Progressive, Catapult, Los Angeles Review of Books, and in many other publications and anthologies. He wrote the Disability Beat column for “How We Get To Next“, and developed the Fries Test for disability representation in our culture. His work has been translated into Spanish, German, French, and Japanese.


Produced and hosted by Eddie Ytuarte.