Behind the Scenes

This site is the result of several years of gathering materials about Deaf people’s experiences related to World War II for Deaf Studies courses taught at NTID/RIT.

The site focuses on three spheres of the world involved in this conflict. Deaf North Americans, Deaf Europeans, and Deaf Asians people’s lives are examined before, during and after the war. It also features videotape clips and full testimonies, articles, scripts, artwork, books and links to other related sites.

The site is far from complete. Rather it is just the beginning of our efforts to amass various materials, resources, documents, and visual testimonies under one website roof in the hopes of fostering further teaching, scholarship, and research in this important and often overlooked time period.

We are indebted to all the collections, playwrights, filmmakers, scholars, authors, and publishers that have agreed to allow us to reproduce their works here.

Content Expert: Patti Durr, NTID Associate Professor, Dept of Cultural and Creative Studies

Copyright Clearance: Joan Naturale, RIT Wallace Memorial Library Librarian

Website Developers and Designers: NTID Center on Access Technology Team

Questions about this site?  Contact


Several scholars/filmmakers have been instrumental in advance our understanding of Deaf people’s experiences during World War II.

Horst Biesold – hearing German researched and wrote several articles and the instrumental book, The Crying Hands: Eugenics and Deaf People in Nazi Germany (Gallaudet University Press, 1999)

Simon Carmel – Deaf US professor who has conducted several videotaped interviews of Deaf survivors for Yale University and NTID.  He has presented at several Jewish Deaf conferences on his findings and work and organized important panel discussions with Deaf survivors of the Holocaust. (See interview under video)

Patti Durr – Hard of Hearing US professor and filmmaker – content expert for the Deaf People and World War II website and conducted visual history interviews with several women Deaf Jewish survivors for NTID.  Produced and directed the film Exodus: A Deaf Jewish Family Escapes the Holocaust.

Newby Ely – Deaf US community historian – research on Deaf Japanese-Americans in US concentration camps during World War II.  Also conducted visual testimonies with Deaf Japanese-Americans and Deaf Jewish and non-Jewish Europeans.

Jack Gannon – Deaf US professor and author of Deaf Heritage: A Narrative History of Deaf America and numerous publications.

Jochen Muhs  – Deaf German, author of several articles on Deaf Germans – see Deaf People in Hitler’s Europe text and Collage: Works on International Deaf History.

John Schuchman – hearing CODA US professor and editor of Deaf People in Hitler’s Europe.  Author of several articles on Deaf Jewish survivors and Deaf Germans.

Mark Zaurov – coordinator of the Sixth Deaf History International conference which took place in Berlin, Germany in the summer of 2006.  Special topics related to German Deaf Community Life from 1933 to 1945 (Deaf Holocaust, Forced Sterilization, Deaf Nazi, Deaf Refugees etc.).  Moderated panel of Deaf survivors.

Keiko Chijiiwa – Deaf Japanese filmmaker – video about Deaf survivors of the attack on Okinawa island during WWII.

Barbara Kannapell– Deaf US professor who has written articles and presented about Deaf US workers and citizens during World War II.

Brigitte Lemaine and Stéphane Gatti – Hearing French filmmakers – films about the Deaf experience during World War II – Témoins Sourds, Témoins Muets and Témoins Sourds, Témoins Silencieux.

Donna Ryan – hearing US professor and editor of Deaf People in Hitler’s Europe.  Author of several articles about Deaf Jewish survivors and interviewing protocol.

Mamezuka Takeshi – Japanese author of Don ga Kikoenakatta Hitobito: The Deaf and the Atomic Bomb.