Ravi loves writing within the cusp of relationships, history, and the bizarre, where boundaries are blurred and possibilities are immense.
The Redefining of Motherhood
In 1935, Heinrich Himmler, the architect of the holocaust decided to redefine motherhood.
The reason was the declining German population. World War I had decimated the country’s young male population. More than 2,000,000 German soldiers had been killed and intermarriage with Jews and others who were deemed ‘inferior’ by Nazis was making the population ‘racially impure’.
In addition, more than 800,000 pregnancies were ending in abortion every year. This was simply not acceptable to both Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler who were dreaming of creating a racially pure Nazi-Aryan nation.
It was in that context that the Lebensborn ‘super baby ‘breeding program was created.
“Lebensborn” means “wellspring of life” or “fountain of life.” The Lebensborn project was one of the most secret and terrifying Nazi projects. Heinrich Himmler founded the Lebensborn project on December 12, 1935.
The disgusting program was a system of supervised selective breeding in which unmarried ‘racially pure’ women were instructed to have children with Nazi officers and create a “super race” for the German Reich that would rule for a thousand years — the ultimate goal of Lebensborn.
The plan started with Germany and gradually expanded to occupied countries, most importantly in Scandinavia, where the Nordic gene with its blond hair and blue eyes was considered classically Aryan and was particularly favoured by Himmler who set up the majority of the Lebensborn centres in Nazi-occupied Norway.
The Lebensborn Program
As a first step both mother and father must pass a ‘racial purity’ test to get admitted into the program. Blond hair and blue eyes were preferred, and family lineage had to be traceable and pure up to at least three generations. The criterion was strict and only 40 percent of women passed the purity test. Most of the mothers were unwed.
The first Lebensborn home was opened in 1936 in Steinhoering, a tiny village not far from Munich. The furnishings and the décor for these homes were best in class, looted from Jews and other people in occupied countries.
In these homes,’ racially pure’ German women were encouraged to meet and have children with SS officers who used to visit occasionally. The children born were then taken by the SS. The program provided support for expectant mothers and enabled them to have their children in safety, secrecy, and comfort.
There Was Also an Incentive System
Himmler, the mastermind has also an incentive system in place that was equally diabolical. A Mother’s Cross of Honor was created in three classes: bronze, silver, and gold. The bronze cross required a woman to conceive and raise at least four children, while the highest honour, the gold cross recognized a woman who had given birth to eight or more.
In addition, these mothers received government subsidies designed to take care of the kids. Mothers with three and more children under 10 years old got ‘honorary cards’ allowing them to get preferential treatment in shopping queues and get discounts on their rent payments. They were also given the best meats from butcher shops and were entitled to zero interest state-sponsored loans.
Himmler soon expanded the program to welcome non-German mothers. In a policy formed by Hitler in 1942, German soldiers were encouraged to ‘socialize’ with native women, with the instruction that any children they produced would be given to SS. ‘Racially pure’ women were encouraged to have one-night stands with SS officers in Lebensborn homes where they can have children in secrecy and confidentiality.
The Children Were Kidnapped for the Program
The worst part of all was the kidnapping of ‘Aryan children’ from occupied territories.
In 1939, under Himmler’s direction, Nazis began kidnapping thousands of children regarded as “Aryan-looking” from foreign countries, most notably Poland and Yugoslavia, but also from Russia, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, and Norway for the Lebensborn program. Some of these children were orphans, but it is well documented that many were stolen from their parents’ arms.
In these centres, these children were ‘germanised” and forced to forget their birth parents. Those children who refused were beaten mercilessly or even sent to concentration camps for ‘re-education’. Ultimately these ‘re-educated’ children were adopted by SS families. Himmler himself reportedly justified this brutal kidnapping when he said.
“It is our duty to take [the children] with us to remove them from their environment… either we win over any good blood that we can use for ourselves and give it a place in our people, or we destroy this blood”.
The Lebensborn Children Are Still Searching for Their True Identities
As the Nazis started losing the war, they destroyed almost all the documents on the Lebensborn program leaving an estimated 200,000 children separated from their families.
Only 25,000 were retrieved after the war and sent back to their families. Some made it home, but others couldn’t remember enough of their original families to find their way back.
It is also believed that several German families refused to give back the children they had received from the Lebensborn centres. In some cases, the children themselves refused to come back to their original family as they were brainwashed by the Nazi propaganda and considered themselves ‘pure’ Germans for better or for worse.
And for most of them, it was a long life of shame, loneliness, and ostracization by society. Many of the Lebensborn women were beaten or killed by the angry, starving public, and their children bullied for their Nazi roots throughout their lives.
While many mothers chose not to tell their children about their shameful heritage and instead invented better stories about ‘good’ fathers and ‘great’ families for them to believe in., some are still searching for their ‘original parents’ and wipe out the shame of the ‘Nazi criminal’ permanently stamped on their very souls.
As Brene Brown has rightly said.
“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”
- The Nazi Party: The “Lebensborn” Program
- The Lebensborn Project
- The Lebensborn project was one of most secret and terrifying Nazi projects
- The Nazis’ Lebensborn Program And The Quest To Breed A Master Race
- Secret Nazi ‘Lebensborn children’ go public
- Lebensborn – the forgotton victims
- The Nazi breeding and infanticide program you probably never knew about
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Ravi Rajan