In A Nutshell
The ideology of an Aryan master race led Nazi Germany to embark on a twisted program of eugenics beginning in the mid-1930s. Named Lebensborn, the program aimed to increase the number of “racially pure” Germans through selective interbreeding. By World War II, Lebensborn had degenerated into outright kidnapping of children. Survivors still bear the psychological scars to this day.
The Whole Bushel
In 1936, 18-year-old Adolf Hitler fanatic Hildegard Trutz was at the crossroads of her young life as she wrapped up her schooling. A leader of the Bund Deutscher Madel (the female counterpart of the Hitler Youth), of which Trutz was a member, gave her some startling advice: “If you don’t know what to do, why not give the Fuhrer a child? What Germany needs more than anything is racially valuable stock.” It was the first time Trutz had heard of the Lebensborn program.
Lebensborn (meaning “fountain of life”) was a state-sponsored project of interbreeding among certified Aryans to increase the birthrate of a pure, blond, and blue-eyed “master race.” It was begun by Heinrich Himmler on December 12, 1936, on the heels of the Nuremberg Laws which forbade intermarriage with Jews and other people deemed “inferior.” Chosen women were encouraged to have intercourse with SS officers and thereby reverse the decline of Germany’s Aryan population. Himmler envisioned producing Lebensborn babies that would one day lead the Reich.
Lebensborn also aimed to halt the thousands of abortions performed in interwar Germany by giving unwed pregnant mothers a place to give birth to “genetically valuable” babies in anonymity and thus escape the social stigma. Lebensborn offered adoption services for unwanted children. These Lebensborn homes were comfortably and luxuriously furnished with the loot taken from the homes of Jews thrown into Dachau. Himmler took special interest in children born on his own birthday, October 7.
In 1939, Lebensborn operations were expanded to the kidnapping of children in Nazi-occupied eastern countries. Children who match the Nazi criteria of racial purity were snatched away by the SS, sometimes from the very arms of their parents. They were then sent to Lebensborn homes to be “Germanized”—brainwashed into rejecting their biological parents and accepting Nazi ideology.
Possessing blond hair and blue eyes, the very features Himmler was after, Trutz was a perfect candidate for Lebensborn. She volunteered enthusiastically.
As with other candidates, she was carefully screened through a series of medical tests and background checks. Even a taint of Jewish blood would disqualify her. So would any case of hereditary disease or mental illness within her family, which needed to be pure Aryan for at least three generations. Only 40 percent of applicants passed the racial purity test. A majority of them were unmarried.
Given the seal of approval, Trutz and 40 other girls were taken to a castle in Bavaria where they were given assumed names. They were required to sign a document renouncing all claims to any children they might bear, who would become the property of the state.
Then they were introduced to the SS officers and were given a week to choose which ones they liked. The girls never knew any of the men’s names; secrecy and anonymity were hallmarks of the Lebensborn program.
The baby Trutz gave birth to was taken away from her after two weeks to be placed in a special SS home where it would be raised a loyal Nazi and servant of the fatherland. Trutz never saw the child or the father again.
It is estimated that 8,000 children in Germany and about 12,000 in Norway were born this way. After Germany’s defeat, these unfortunates were stigmatized, discriminated against, or even bullied as social misfits. Ironically, instead of being “superkids,” they were rejected as being of little talent and mentally backward.
One famous name among these tyskerbanas (“German children”), as they were called in Norway, is Anni-Frid Lyngstad of the Swedish pop group ABBA, born after the war in November 1945. The persecution of her mother and grandmother forced them to flee to Sweden. Mothers who had liaisons with German officers were labeled “German whores” and ostracized. The children themselves, many now in their seventies, have to live with the torment that their fathers may have been war criminals.
Show Me The Proof
Featured image via Wikipedia
Spiegel Online: Nazi Program to Breed Master Race
Jewish Virtual Library: The “Lebensborn” Program
History Extra: The woman who gave birth for Hitler
The Guardian: Torment of the Abba star with a Nazi father