It’s no secret that the Nazis committed crimes of the worst nature during the Second World War. Millions of Jews, homosexuals, gypsies and other minorities fell in the most atrocious manner at the hands of the relentless Nazi regime. Hitler’s Third Reich aimed to perform ethnic cleansing to make way for a master race of Aryans that he planned to lead the world to “racial purity” with. Hitler created a “master race program” that involved kidnapping babies, killing parents and other sickening tactics. This is the story that history teachers never taught, that Germans denied, and that will leave a stain on the face of humanity forever.
Sometimes it takes something so great in size and so sickening in nature for the world to realize the depths in evil that a man, an army and even a people can dip down to. We live in a time when we shout, “never again” with the greatest conviction, but at the same time ignore the realities around us. In countries around the world, under the simple guise of civil war, minorities are being persecuted in the worst ways imaginable. The Second World War ended only 73 years ago, and yet we witness similar atrocities happening every single day. History is behind us, but at the same time it is in the works as we live our day-to-day lives. What we do today, or what we decide to turn our back on today, will eventually become the history of tomorrow. We have to decide what action we will take to ensure that history tells our story and not the story that we left to tell itself.
The story you are about to read is by no stretch for the feint-hearted. It is a true story that will chill you to the core. The facts are exactly that – facts, and they are not widely distributed and shared. The story of the Nazis’ master race program isn’t just a fable about a sad people that wished to create a nationalistic homeland for their own people. Rather this is about a wicked regime that stopped at nothing to achieve their goal, no matter how many people got hurt and killed. The Nazis are synonymous with wickedness and this story will only solidify the reasoning for that.
After The Great War
When Germany fell in the First World War, the population was heavily humiliated. Germany’s financial status was in ruins, and the Treaty of Versailles limited the Rhineland from ever building a formidable military again.
Hitler Comes To Power
While Adolf Hitler worked his way into office, he twisted the anger and humiliation of the German people towards the quest for racial superiority. He would eventually draw up the plan for the “final solution” – mass extermination of all “inferior races”, making way for superior Aryans.
No Man Left Behind
Due to the high cost of lives during WWI, German women were left without male counterparts. The Great War had left more than 18 million dead, and the German population was not spared of the tragedy.
The Abortion Option
German women had very few options of marriage, and the rate of abortion rose exponentially with about 800,000 a year. Most women were not prepared to raise a baby in a financially unstable country.
Putting Together A Plan
Hitler and his counterparts felt compelled to act in the wake of the German population decline. Their plan was to put a stop on abortions, and start a population “boom”. Only this boom would not be a positive one – it would mean cultivating a population of pure-blooded Aryans, but at the cost of families and the populous Hitler deemed inferior.
Hitler’s Vision Of Purity
Hitler had a vision of purity, and he called it the Aryan race. According to Hitler and the Nazis, Aryans were a pure breed of humans who came from German, northern European and Nordic backgrounds. They envisioned this perfection as people with blonde hair and blue eyes.
Inventing A Race
The Third Reich passed a law in April 1933 that required every single government employee and Nazi official to have proof of membership to the Aryan race. The process included getting seven birth or baptism certificates. If anyone wanted to become a Reich citizen, they needed this too.
Hitler started to seek out a scapegoat during the time he sat in prison for attempting to overthrow the post-World War I government. He wrote his infamous diary, Mein Kampf, in which he blamed the Jews for trying to dominate the world.
When Hitler came out of prison, he used this hate to brainwash the desperate German population. While using propaganda to work on the minds of the Germans, he also bolstered the idea of “Lebensborn” – pushing for the birth rate of “pure Aryans”.
On December 12th, 1935, the Nazi regime officially began the campaign of “Lebensborn” (Fount of Life). Under the rule of the policy, women who passed as “racially viable” were encouraged to reproduce with SS officers in order to breed Aryan babies. These women received financial aid and were even given the option to move to another city to give birth if they didn’t want to face social stigmas. Abortion officially became illegal.
A Special Title
besides for receiving an array of benefits, the women who took part in the Lebensborn program would get a medal of honor too. The medal which they received was “The Cross of Honour of the German Mother” – especially commissioned for the occasion.
But the desire for Aryan children didn’t stop within the borders of Germany. Nazi soldiers traveled to surrounding countries and began kidnapping children who were “Aryan-looking” and then brought them to Germany to start the “Germanization” process.
Categorizing The Children
The Nazi soldiers abducted children from all over Europe. Once they returned to Germany, the children fell into three different categories – desired, acceptable and undesired. During the Lebensborn policy, approximately 400,000 children were kidnapped in Europe.
A Deathly Journey
The means for getting the abducted children to Germany were far from safe. Ironically, many of the children were put on cargo trains or cattle carts without any food, water or decent shelter. During the hot season, children suffered from suffocation and died, whereas in the winter many children froze to death.
Terror In Front Of Their Eyes
The Nazis stripped these children from their parents, for all to see. “I saw children being taken from their mothers, some were even torn from the breast. It was a terrible sight: the agony of the mothers and fathers, the beating by the Germans, and the crying of the children,” recalls an eye-witness.
When Germany started to expel the Poles, tens of thousands of Polish children were snatched from their parents. By the end of the war, the estimated number of Polish children taken as part of the Lebensborn campaign was about 200,000.
Desperate to save the children, many Polish railway workers endangered their own lives to save the children, and in some instances even paid off Nazi guards with gold and jewelry just to give the children clothing or food.
Determining Racial Value
When the children finally came to Germany, they were directed to pass-through camps called Kindererziehungslager. It was here that the children would undergo a detailed scrutiny of their physical features, which would then determine their fate. Here each child would fall into 1 of 11 different racial types, which was tested based on their eye color, hair color, skull shape and other body proportions. This was how they determined the children’s racial value.
From the abducted children, those who received the title of “Aryan” would be lucky enough to go to “special homes”. Children who were aged two to six were to be observed, checking if they could pass as true Germans. The authorities provided them with new German names as well as birth certificates. Their goal was to erase their history. After their assessment finished, the children became “German orphans” worthy of adoption into German families. For the others, it wasn’t as pretty.
The Older Children
As for the children aged six to twelve, things were very different. When they arrived at the “special homes”, officials told them that their parents had been killed and that they required taking on German names to replace their Polish ones. German was the only language they could speak and the punishment for speaking any other language was severe beating. Any child who proved incapable of learning German, was sent to youth camps. Those who could, were sent for adoption. Many of these children believed that they were German, and completely forgot their past and heritage.
Medical Test Subjects
Any children who didn’t pass the racial purity test, were sent to different concentration camps where they were killed. Others who weren’t killed were forced to become medical test subjects of the worst kind. Children from the age of 8 months to 18 years experienced medical torture that resulted in death, trauma, permanent disability or disfiguration. The majority of the children who passed through the medical wing didn’t make it out alive.
The Nazi regime justified their actions with the claim that the Poles had “Polonized” ethnically German children. The Nazis continued to reach for children throughout Europe, with special attention to northern European countries. Each child would go through the frightening process of testing, re-identification, indoctrination and for many, medical torture and death.
After the Second World War, documents that survived the Nazi attempt to destroy them all, highlighted the misfortune of the children from the Zamość area of Poland. Around 200 to 300 children came to Auschwitz where they received a lethal injection of phenol, one at a time. One account of this murder method said, “As a rule, not even a moan would be heard. And they did not wait until the doomed person really died. During his agony, he was taken from both sides under the armpits and thrown into a pile of corpses in another room… And the next victim took his place on the stool.”
When the Third Reich was full operational and slaughtering the “inferior races”, they realized that they needed to boost their Aryan birth rates to combat a declining population. The process started with screening of women who needed to be “racially valuable” to the Nazi regime. The Lebensborn homes were quickly transformed into Aryan breeding clinics that spread across many countries in Europe, like: Germany, Austria, Poland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, and Luxembourg.
Safety For Japan And China
Even though Hitler decided that the prominent features of Aryans included blonde hair, blue eyes, a strong and slim build as well as a certain size head, he made exceptions where it suited him. When it came to the Japanese and the Chinese, they received the title of “honorary Aryans” simply because it aided the Third Reich’s political agenda. These peoples could work and live in Germany freely.
Ethnic purity originally came from Hitler’s personal diary, Mein Kampf. Here he detailed what he called the “Untermensch” (subhumans) as Jews, Roma, ethnic Poles and certain Slavic people. None of these groups of people were righteous enough to be Aryans.
In schools, children learned how to differentiate between Aryans and “Untermenschen” based on biased racial stereotypes. Schools taught that anyone who was not an Aryan was supposed to be exterminated or sent into slavery.
The League of German Girls held the responsibility of recruiting female breeding girls that would pair up with SS officers. The LGG was the female version of the Hitler Youth program. SS nurseries were actually facilities that took over originally-owned Jewish nursing homes and they got their furniture from the homes of Jews who the Nazis took to extermination camps.
The Nazis believed that Norway was the best place to run the Lebensborn program because they possessed the most superior Aryan features. SS soldiers impregnated thousands of Norwegian women and fathered between 10,000 to 12,000 children. Mothers didn’t get to give their consent to the taking of their children, the Nazis simply took them and sent them back to Germany.
The Norwegian government tried to warn Great Britain and sent a frightening broadcast: “We have previously issued a warning and we repeat it here of the price these women will pay for the rest of their lives: they will be held in contempt by all Norwegians for their lack of restraint.”
There were certain benefits afforded to the women who lived in the Lebensborn facilities. Aside from receiving welfare benefits, the women received money for all sorts of expenses, including, transportation, medical bills and dental treatment. While the war brought down the economies in Nazi-controlled territories, the Lebensborn homes were striving. Around them, their fellow population was suffering, starving and fighting for basic living conditions.
The Norwegians didn’t have respect for the women who volunteered themselves to collaborate with the Nazis. They were called many distasteful names, like “tyskertøser” which means “whores of the Germans.”
The children that these women would bear would also be considered in poor taste, adopting names like, “Nazi-spawn” or “Kraut-kids”. While these women were enjoying the benefits of the Nazi protection, their fellow countrymen were growing more and more antagonistic.
When Germany fell against the Allies at the close of World War I, international peacekeeping forces mobilized the Rhineland. One such group of peacekeepers was made up of African troops operating for the French colonial army. As a result of their presence, German women engaged with the African soldiers, resulting in the birth of hundreds of mixed-race babies born out of wedlock. The Nazis called these babies “tainted blood” and ordered the sterilization of such people so that they could not reproduce.
Destroying The Evidence
On May 8th, 1945, Hitler committed suicide as the Allies were laying siege to the city of Berlin. Around the same time, orders were passed down to destroy the records of the kidnappings. Because of this last push to destroy evidence of the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis, the exact number of abducted children remains unknown.
The Polish government reported that less than 15% of the children that were taken were returned safely. Numbers put forward by the Polish government on kidnapped children was as high as 10,000, but other sources claim as much as 200,000.
The Questionable Trial
When the war ended, the heads of the Lebensborn campaign were brought to a court of justice. Nobody could believe their eyes or ears when they were all acquitted of their horrific crimes. The verdict was: “The prosecution has failed to prove with the requisite certainty the participation of Lebensborn, and the defendants connected therewith in the kidnapping program conducted by the Nazis.”
It went on: “While the evidence has disclosed that thousands upon thousands of children were unquestionably kidnapped by other agencies or organizations and brought into Germany, … only a small percentage of the total number ever found their way into Lebensborn. Only in isolated instances did Lebensborn take children who had a living parent. The majority of those children in any way connected with Lebensborn were orphans of ethnic Germans.”
Journalists reported that the women who had been in the welfare homes were significantly healthier (and heavier) than the local population, who were suffering from starvation.
The public didn’t take to kindness when it came to dealing with those women. The locals beat them in the streets, shaved their heads and many were banished from their communities and cities.
Originally the common belief was that the women of the Lebensborn program were held by the SS soldiers against their will. This mainly owed to the misreporting in the media and the mass confusion that followed after the war. When the issue was investigated, journalists revealed that the women had the choice to leave at any time. The public’s anger towards these women just grew more and more, and some of these women had their children taken away from them.
These Lebensborn women suffered from the break of the end of the war. Society didn’t want them around. Police arrested 14,000 women alone in Norway on charges of collaborating with the Nazis. Thousands of them were sent to forced labor camps for a year and a half without having seen a court or experienced a trial.
The Orphaned Children
The orphaned children of the Lebensborn project didn’t get much better treatment. In one newspaper report, it read that the children paraded through the streets without consent so that the locals could spit on them.
There were thousands of half-German babies that nobody wanted. The mothers who bore those babies had to give them up against their will and some countries stepped in to help. Sweden was one country that took hundreds of these babies for adoption. The irony for the families who would adopt these babies, was that they didn’t know where the babies came from. Once again the babies would lose their identities.
Originally the Norwegian government attempted to have these children deported to other countries like Australia, Germany, and Brazil. Their plan to get rid of the Lebensborn children in one swift move failed.
Not Accepted In Society
The Norwegian ministry of social affairs took the plight of the orphan children to a new height of disdain. Their statement read: “To believe these children will become decent citizens is to believe rats in the cellar will become house pets.” Norway’s head of their largest mental hospital stated that the women who had slept with the Nazis were “mental defectives” and claimed that more than 80% of the children must be “retarded”.
Left For Nothing
Years after Norway sent the Lebensborn children to locked state institutions, a group of them tried to sue the government. Their claims were that they were neglected and that they didn’t get the care they needed. There was hardly a response to their claims. Only in 1999 did Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik actually make a public apology for the children’s mistreatment.
In 2008, the group presented their argument in the European Court of Human Rights. Unfortunately, like the culmination of a bad dream, their case was dismissed. As a poor form of compensation, the Norwegian government handed out £8,000 to each of them.
One of the babies who was born in the Lebensborn program was Frida Lyngstad. She was one of the lead singers of the Swedish band, ABBA. Her mother was a Norwegian woman by the name of Synni Lyngstad. Her father was a Nazi sergeant who bedded Lyngstad by bribing her with a sack of potatoes – a rarity at that time of the war. When the Nazi soldier returned to Germany, Lyngstad fell pregnant, but her community ostracized her. She flew to Sweden where she bore her daughter, but died of kidney failure.
Finding The Truth
Frida Lyngstad always believed that her father died when his ship sunk – that is what everyone told her. In 1977 the truth came to her, and it said that her father was still alive. At the time she was a successful singer for ABBA, but she wanted to meet her father, They met, but they wouldn’t pursue a relationship afterwards. Frida recalls, “It would have been different if I’d been a child. But it’s difficult to get a father when you’re 32 years old. I can’t really connect to him and love him the way I would have if he’d been around when I grew up.”
The Women Who Gave Birth For Hitler
In hindsight, it’s unbelievable to imagine just why some of these women would participate in the Nazi-run Lebensborn program. Between 1933 and 1945, it’s estimated that 20,000 babies were bred under the program in Germany and Norway. Were these women under duress? Were they indoctrinated or simply recruited for the cause? To gain a deeper understanding, let’s delve deeper into the case of Hildegard Trutz, who joined the program in 1936.
While it might seem inconceivable now, it’s important to probe deeper into the minds of young women like Trutz and uncover the indoctrinating techniques that the Nazis used to achieve their goals. In fact, these techniques have already been repeated in other regimes since WWII, so let’s take a closer look at the cult psychology behind the Lebensborn program.
She Was A Member Of The Hitler Youth
By 1936 Trutz was already an avid supporter of the Nazis and adored Hitler. After all, she was young, impressionable and had grown up at the time Hitler rose to power. She was already a loyal member of the BDM, the female equivalent of the Hitler Youth and later exclaimed ‘I was mad about Adolf Hitler and our new better Germany…I learned how tremendously valuable we young people were to Germany.’
She Was One Of Germany’s ‘Pure’ Women
As a loyal supporter of her local youth organization, Trutz became one of its leading prodigies. Trutz later revealed how ‘I was pointed out as the perfect example of the Nordic woman. She not only had blonde hair and blue eyes, Trutz also had ‘long legs… a long trunk…broad hips and a pelvis built for child-bearing.’
Why Not Give The Fuhrer A Child
By 1936, Trutz had completed her schooling and was at a cross-roads about which path to take in life. While many nowadays would consider which career they wanted to follow, Trutz still lived under the Nazi regime. While she was in the midst of her decision, she found herself talking to one of the leaders of the BDM program, who persuasively suggested ‘If you don’t know what to do… why not give the Führer a child? What Germany needs more than anything is racially valuable stock.’ While this would be inconceivable to imagine in these times, Trutz wanted to find out more…
How Lebensborn Worked
Trutz was curious to find out what exactly the program involved, so the leader of BDM explained to her how the process worked. Firstly she would have to undergo some medical tests, and a full background check. One of the key requirements was that she had no Jewish blood. After this was all-clear, she would be free to choose from a group of SS officers to breed with. It’s inexplicable to believe, but this was ‘pure’ breeding under the Nazis.
She Signed Up Immediately
Since Trutz was already very impressionable, and the BDM leader had sugar-coated the process, her enthusiasm began to grow. She later said ‘It sounded wonderful,’ and immediately signed up. She did have a suspicion that her parents wouldn’t be quite as enthusiastic as her, so she lied that she was embarking on a residential course in National Socialism.
She Moved To A Castle
As a major incentive for the initiative, Trutz was then whisked away to a luxurious castle in Bavaria. At the time she entered the complex, it was filled with forty other girls with assumed names. To be accepted for the ‘breeding program’, all she needed to organise was a certificate to prove that she had Aryan ancestry which traced back to her great grandparents.
The Castle Was The Height Of Luxury
As you might expect, a major reason that women like Trutz participated in the program, was because they were given all the right incentives. This included the stay at the extravagant castle, which was the height of luxury. The sprawling complex was filled with rooms for sports and games, a library, music room and even a cinema. As Trutz was young and impressionable, she also hailed how ‘the food was the best I have ever tasted; we didn’t have to work and there were masses of servants.’ Everything was made easy for Trutz and she could indulge a better life than she could ever dream of…
She Was Examined Thoroughly
While Trutz enjoyed the life of luxury, there were still some sordid reminders of the real purpose of her stay. Trutz pointed out that a professor, who was also an SS doctor was in charge of the castle. After all, she was participating in the Nazi master race program. That’s why when she entered the castle, the doctor was quick to examine her thoroughly. Trutz also had to ‘to make a statutory declaration that there had never been any cases of hereditary diseases, dipsomania or imbecility in our family.’
She Would Have To Renounce Her Children
If there’s any testament to the power of indoctrination, this case showed that the Nazis could influence anyone to do anything, even give up their children. Trutz recounted how the professor coerced the women to sign a sign a document that renounced any claim to children they would bear. After the children were born, they would then be considered the property of the state and brought up in special institutions. In these institutions they would instill the next generation with absolute loyalty for the Nazi regime, which seamlessly tied in with the plan for the Nazi master race.
They Met Their SS Matches
After Trutz completed her initiation process and passed all the necessary checks, it was time to meet her SS match. It was at this point Trutz was introduced to her SS breeding partners, and by this point she was completely swept away as they ‘were all very tall and strong with blue eyes and blond hair’. This then turned into a twisted Bachelor-style dating program where Trutz would participate in getting-to-know-you sessions and group games. They would even have the chance to watch films together and enjoying social evenings at the castle.
They Had To Pick
Trutz recounted how she was given around a week to decide who she would choose to make her match with. The sordid part was that they were influenced to choose a breeding partner with’hair and eyes that corresponded exactly to ours’. What’s more, is that another key criteria of the program was that everything was kept anonymously, so the girls and boys were not told the name of their partners. This would seemingly help with detachment process of producing a baby with an anonymous partner and giving it away with no emotional connection.
As Soon As They Made Their Choice
Once Trutz had made her choice, she revealed how they would then have to wait ‘until the tenth day after the beginning of the last period.’ Once this day came she received another medical exam and learnt that she would spend the night with her chosen SS man. For Trutz, the idea seemed exciting, as she would spend the night with her match and be producing a baby for the Fuhrer.
She Believed In The Greater Cause
Trutz later recounted how ‘as both the father of my child and I believed completely in the importance of what we were doing’. Since she and the SS match were completely indoctrinated that they were doing this for the greater cause, she exclaimed how ‘we had no shame or inhibitions of any kind.’ She also noted how she was impressed with his ‘smashing looks’, although she thought he was probably a little stupid…
She Soon Fell Pregnant
Trutz was excited to sleep with her match for three nights that week, and just like a warped version of the Bachelor, she would share him with other girls the other nights. Almost immediately, Trutz fell pregnant and was transferred to a maternity home for nine months.
It Was Not An Easy Birth
For Trutz, the confinement and birthing process was not easy. However, she still believed she was doing it all for the greater cause, so, she didn’t mind that ‘it was not an easy birth’. Trutz was completely swept up in the Nazi belief that ‘no good German woman would think of having any artificial aids, such as injections to deaden the pain, like they had in the degenerate Western democracies.’
Her Baby Was Taken Away
After Trutz gave birth to her baby son, she was given the chance to wean him for two weeks. After this, her baby was then taken from her side to a special SS institution. Since Trutz was completely at peace with the idea that she was doing this for the greater cause, she was glad that he would be brought up as a ‘loyal servant of the Nazi state’. She also seemed to be at peace with the idea that she would never see her baby or the father ever again.
After the Lebensborn program
In the years that followed the Lebensborn program, Trutz admitted that she was tempted to bear more children for the Fuhrer. However, she eventually met an officer and fell in love. After they got married, Trutz revealed her sordid story to her husband. Although he wasn’t as happy about the program as she was, he soon understood that she had been ‘doing my duty to the Führer’.
Her Child’s Fate Remained A Mystery
Although Trutz was proud that she had served the Fuhrer, she never actually discovered what happened to her baby son, and his fate remained a mystery. Nonetheless, if the fate of the other Lebensborn babies is any example, he would have also been ostracized in post-war Germany, and be surrounded by a stigma that could never truly be shaken…
Taking The Truth To The Grave
As each decade passes, the full details about the Lebensborn program seems to disappear a little more. For years the women involved haven’t wanted to talk. The Nazis also forced these women to swear the SS oath of “My honor is loyalty.” The truth behind what really happened there might remain a mystery forever.
The Never-Ending Hate
The children who came to life through the eerie master race program had a shadow cast over them for their whole lives. As most of them are dying out, their horror-filled lives will chase them to the grave. “We will never be rid of the stigma, not until we are dead and buried,” one of the Lebensborn children explained.
Another Lebensborn child recalled that men in his Norwegian village chased him and carved a swastika into his forehead with a nail. “I don’t want to be buried in a grave,” he claimed. “I want my ashes to be scattered to the winds – at least then I won’t be picked on anymore.”
The horrors that the Nazi regime committed will forever live in infamy in our history books. It is of paramount importance that we never forget what they did, so that no-one ever does it again. As we learned from this story, the effects of such trauma reach far beyond the years that the atrocities occurred.