Did The Nazis Give ‘Companionship’ Dolls To Their Troops?

“A crowd of fellow-sufferers is a miserable kind of comfort.” —Seneca the Younger

In A Nutshell

According to the story, Heinrich Himmler ordered a whole legion of “companionship” dolls called gynoids to be made based on Aryan appearances. The dolls would accompany Nazi troops across Europe and beyond, allowing them to satisfy their desires without coming into contact with dirty, foreign women of ill repute. But there isn’t much evidence for the story. It’s based on a few questionable photographs of the dolls before they were all supposedly destroyed in the bombings of Dresden. So did the Borghild Project actually happen?

The Whole Bushel

Sifting through the plans and projects of World War II is a bizarre trip through history. Whether we’re talking about trying to kill Winston Churchill with an exploding bar of chocolate, stealing Christmas, creating a race of super-cattle, or planning a Fourth Reich, it’s easy to get the feeling that at some point, the Nazis were just throwing things at the wall to see what would stick.

So maybe that’s why the idea of the Borghild Project was so widely accepted, even though many historians think there isn’t any evidence it existed.

According to the story, the Borghild Project was started by Heinrich Himmler to combat a problem that conquering Nazi armies were likely to encounter: the men’s tendency to spread their precious Nazi seed anywhere and everywhere. There were also concerns about what men did when they were on long sea voyages, as well as worries about sexually transmitted diseases they might come in contact with if they turned to foreign prostitutes.

The solution? Build another army, this one of sex dolls that would travel along behind the fighting men. After each use, the dolls would be cleaned in special “disinfection-chambers.”

Hilarious? Absolutely. Likely? Doubtful.

The story goes on to say that it was a part of the German hygiene program, and that from June 1940 to January 1942, there were a whole host of sex dolls created with realistic bits and appendages, along with all the Aryan characteristics that should be attractive to the Nazi soldiers.

Team leaders debated over whether she should have a shy yet beautiful face based on an actress or whether she should be cast from some of the country’s top female athletes.

In the end, 10 faces were cast, dolls were made, and psychological tests were carried out. Himmler ordered another batch made as soon as he saw them.

The project—named the Borghild Project after the name of the doll—was supposedly canned only a week after Himmler placed that order. Funding was needed elsewhere, and all the dolls were sent back to Dresden where they happened to be destroyed in subsequent bombings.

Another version of the story says that they were put into production, but the program failed when troops were too embarrassed to use them.

That’s the story, at least, and it’s admittedly not out of the realm of possibility.

But the only evidence for the story is two pictures, supposedly rescued from the garbage of the German Hygiene Museum. Everyone named in connection with the project denies its existence, but there’s a weird connection to one of Germany’s allies.

The Japanese have been notorious for forcing female captive and prisoners to “service” their troops, but they’re also known for merchant ships that would keep sex dolls onboard for their crews. The practice started in the 17th century, and the leather dolls were called “Dutch wives,” in reference to the Dutch East India Company.

Even though it’s largely regarded as a hoax, that doesn’t stop places from reporting the Borghild Project as real. In 2011, the Daily Mail picked up the story and ran with it. Now, the Daily Mail is well-known to make up the things they publish on a daily basis, so in itself, that doesn’t mean much. But the more reputable Time magazine also picked up the story, re-told by Graeme Donald in a book covering some of the most bizarre stories of the era.

Show Me The Proof

The Sex Doll: A History, by Anthony Ferguson
Weird Retro: The Borghild Project
Time: New Book Claims Hitler Gave Sex Dolls to Nazi Soldiers