Lebensborn – Fount of Life

Some time ago, we watched Six Minutes to Midnight and my husband is currently reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich because of Putin. All of which inspired him to ask me what I thought they did with the babies of The League of German Girls, the elite offspring of the Nazis who sent to the summer camps such as Augusta Victoria College in Dorset Road, Bexhill-on-Sea from the movie who became pregnant. I couldn’t find a direct answer to his question.

Nazi authorities created the Lebensborn program to increase Germany’s population. It was originally intended to provide pregnant “Aryan” women with financial assistance, adoption services, and a series of private maternity homes where they could give birth. Pregnant German women deemed “racially valuable” were encouraged to give birth to their children at Lebensborn homes. During World War II, the program became complicit in the kidnapping of foreign children with physical features considered “Aryan” by the Nazis. By the end of World War II, Lebensborn became involved in the Nazi regime’s systematic kidnapping of thousands of “biologically valuable” foreign children to be raised in German homes.

I have not read the book who’s cover illustrates today’s blog. However, there was a review on the Diary of an Eccentric – writings of an eccentric bookworm website. Hitler’s Forgotten Children is the heartbreaking story of Ingrid von Oelhafen’s decades-long journey to uncover her true identity. Ingrid grew up in Germany with German parents, but she was only a young girl when she learned that she might be Erika Matko, who was born in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia in 1942, stolen from her parents, brought to Germany, and placed with “politically vetted foster parents.”

In a first person narrative, von Oelhafen explains in great detail her earliest memories, her cold treatment by her foster parents, how she first learned about Erika Matko and the Lebensborn program, her research into Lebensborn, and all the steps she took over the years to find out the truth. Von Oelhafen’s story is hard to read at times, from the way her foster parents treated her to the part of her life that was taken away and irrevocably changed by the Nazis. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the evil of the Nazi regime and how one can live nearly their whole life without knowing who they truly are.

The book explores identity, what makes you who you are, and how to build a life for yourself when you don’t know where you came from or who you belong to. Von Oelhafen was forced to consider what she knew, what she didn’t know, and what she will never know, and the book explains how this affected her opportunities and her decisions over the course of her life. 

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