It is estimated that some 20, such babies were bred during the 12 years of the Third Reich —45 , principally in Germany and Norway.
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.
Hildegard Trutz had been a loyal supporter of the Nazis ever since Hitler came to power. Trutz quickly became a figurehead of her local organization, in part because of her Germanic blonde hair and blue eyes.
In , when she was eighteen, Trutz finished her schooling and was at a loss as to what to do next. What Germany needs more than anything is racially valuable stock. Trutz was unaware of the state-sponsored programme known as Lebensborn. The BDM leader explained to her exactly how Lebensborn worked.
She would be given a series of medical tests, along with a thorough investigation of her background. It was essential that she had no Jewish blood. Once given the all-clear, she would be able to select a breeding partner from a group of SS officers. Trutz listened with growing enthusiasm. Aware that her parents would disapprove, she told them she was undertaking a residential course in National Socialism. She was escorted to an old castle in Bavaria, near the Tegernsee. There were forty other girls in residence and all were living under assumed names.
The castle itself was the height of luxury. There were common rooms for sports and games, a library, music room and even a cinema. The professor also warned the girls that they would have to sign a document renouncing all claims to any children they produced, as they were to be the property of the state. They would be brought up in special institutions that would instil an absolute loyalty to the Nazi ideal. After their initiation, Trutz and the other girls were introduced to the SS men who were to be their breeding partners.
Trutz liked what she saw. The girls were not told the names of any of the men: anonymity was a key principle of the Lebensborn programme. The officer slept with Trutz for three evenings in that first week.
On the other evenings, he had to sleep with other girls at the castle. Trutz fell pregnant almost immediately and was moved into a maternity home for the next nine months. She weaned her baby son for two weeks and then he was removed from her side and taken to a special SS home where he was to be brought up as a loyal servant of the Nazi state.
The children represented a traumatic chapter in 20th century history and were often shunned by society.
Kikki Skjermo, a lively woman who travelled here from Norway, described being stigmatised as a "Nazi child" during her childhood in a Norwegian children's home. When she later found her own mother she also met a wall of coldness. I can remember that day so clearly," Kikki said. The weekend meeting of the group called Lebensspuren traces of life , is full of similarly painful stories. Since its creation four years ago, its members swap stories about tracing relatives and dealing with rejection and lies.
There is the odd happy tale of reunited families, but for many it has been a battle against taboos and misinformation. Folker Heinecke was only two years old when he was kidnapped in what is now Ukraine by Nazis because of his Aryan looks.
He thinks his real name is Aleksander Litau. 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.
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.
Children of ages 6 to 12 were placed in German boarding schools. She suffered a lot as well. Despite all the hardships, I got an education and my work as a social worker has helped me deal with my past. Ten Lebensborn homes were set up in foreign lands, where some 8, children were eventually born. Movers List. Not into uncharted territory but much worse, we spiral from behind directly into the brutal, unlearned lessons of history.