Many Germans felt the acceptance of unwed mothers encouraged immorality. Eventually Himmler backpedaled, but he never condemned illegitimacy outright. Himmler himself had two illegitimate children. Lebensborn soon expanded to welcome non-German mothers.
In a policy formed by Hitler in , German soldiers were encouraged to fraternize with native women, with the understanding that any children they produced would be provided for. Racially fit women, most often the girlfriends or one-night stands of SS officers, were invited to Lebensborn homes to have their child in privacy and safety. In these centers, everything was done to force the children to reject and forget their birth parents.
As an example, the SS nurses tried to persuade the children that they were deliberately abandoned by their parents. The children who refused the Nazi education were often beaten. Most of them were finally transferred to concentration camps most of the time to Kalish in Poland and exterminated.
The others were adopted by SS families.
In , in reprisals of the assassination of the SS governor Reinhard Heydrich in Prague, a SS unit exterminated the entire male population of a small village called Lidice. During this operation, some SS made a selection of the children. The others were sent to special children camps i. As the allies advanced, children in the various Lebensborn homes were withdrawn to interior homes. They found children, aged six months to six years. Most of the mothers and staff had fled. The majority of these children were either put up for adoption or sent back to their birth families.
Some of the children kidnapped in other countries who were living with families throughout Germany were repatriated to their native countries. Unfortunately, many were too Germanic to fit in. It is nearly impossible to know how many children were kidnapped in the eastern occupied countries. In , it was estimated that more than , were kidnapped and sent by force to Germany.
Only 25, were retrieved after the war and sent back to their families. It is known that several German families refused to give back the children they had received from the Lebensborn centers. In some cases, the children themselves refused to come back to their original family - they were victims of the Nazi propaganda and believed that they were pure Germans. Download our mobile app for on-the-go access to the Jewish Virtual Library. Party Platform. Nazi Regime in Germany.
Nazi Organizations. German Police. Bund Deutscher Madel. Reich Security Main Office. Schutzstaffel SS. Sicherheitsdienst SD.
The Third Reich. Homosexuals in the Third Reich. Law and Justice. Military Organization. Power Structure. After growing up in East Germany, he was only able to search for his family when the wall came down. He travelled to the rural town in Ukraine where records suggest he was found. I was sent to some houses where children were meant to have been kidnapped - but no one knew anything," the smartly-dressed year-old said.
Hartmut Mueller, who is sitting in front of him, nods and reaches over to hold Folker's hand. I know I've got two other siblings but I just can't find them anywhere. In Wernigerode, the Lebensspuren organisers want to create a museum in the inconspicuous cream-coloured house that was formerly a Lebensborn home. The last Lebensborn baby was born there in It was kept as a maternity clinic for years afterwards - partly because the Nazi era equipment had been state of the art.
When the home was cleared out in , books were found listing the births which had taken place there. Standing on its front lawn, a member of the Lebensspuren board stresses how important it is to document what happened, but always with a nod to the larger tragedy of Hitler's regime. The museum must remind future generations, "but certainly not stand as any sort of memorial", he says.
They are victims but at the same time, the children of criminals". This unwieldy historical baggage impels Gisela to take her story to pupils in schools and colleges. And for her - as with others gathered in the room - telling the truth is all-important.
Many Germans felt the acceptance of unwed mothers encouraged immorality. Of the estimated 5, to 8, born into Lebensborn homes in Germany, some were raised by their birth mothers, but many were given over to families of high-ranking SS officers to be raised according to Nazi doctrine. Guntram Weber, 63, a creative writing teacher from Berlin, knew for decades that his mother was lying about his father. Being a registered association gives us a better chance to get information from archives and authorities," said Peter Naumann, chairman of Traces of Life. Germany portal Politics portal.
As she gives an impassioned speech to the crowded room, it is clear how her ruptured history has dominated her life. And her chosen career comes as little surprise - family therapy. Lebensborn , which means "source of life", was a programme created by Heinrich Himmler , Adolf Hitler's right-hand man.
Lebensborn e.V. (literally: "Fount of Life") was an SS-initiated, state-supported, registered .. Master race: the Lebensborn experiment in Nazi Germany. Publisher. Of all the women who applied, only 40 percent passed the racial purity test and were granted admission to the Lebensborn program. The majority of mothers.
It was designed to boost the German population by encouraging citizens, especially SS members , to have more children. SS officers came under pressure to have four children, inside or outside marriage. Ten maternity homes were set up across Germany where 8, to 12, Lebensborn Kinder were born. Some stayed with their mothers, but many were adopted by families of SS officers. As the Third Reich expanded, Lebensborn homes were set up across Europe.
In Norway some 10, babies were born, most fathered by SS officers to Norwegian mothers. There were also cases of children with "Aryan" characteristics being kidnapped from their homes in occupied territories.
Blond hair, blue eyes: the Third Reich's sinister plan to boost the "master race" has left behind an emotionally charged legacy that lingers to this day. Backstory Lebensborn , which means "source of life", was a programme created by Heinrich Himmler , Adolf Hitler's right-hand man.