* NAZI Lebensborn eugenics --World War II occupied countries displaced children

NAZI Lebensborn Program: Occupied Countries

Figure 1.--.

The NAZI domestic Lebensborn program was soon transformed into a much larger and more sinister effort of kidnapping large numbers of racially suitable children in occupied countries. This was valled "Eindeutschung" which I am unsure how to translate. The NAZI description of this is instructive, "Erhaltung und Förderung rassisch wertvollen germanischen Erbgutes". This translates roughly as the "preservation and promotion of racially valuable Germanic hereditary property". In other countries Lebensborn homes were established. The NAZI polices in this regard varied greatly from country to country. Probably more than 0.3 million children were kidnapped by the NAZIs. Few were ever to be reunited with their parents. A substantial number were murdered in concentration camps.

Czecheslovakia (1938-45)

Czecheslovakia was seized by the NAZIs in two stages in 1938. First the Sudetenland was handed over to the NAZIs as a result of the Munich Agreement and in March 1939, Hitler ordered the rest of the country seized in direct viloation of Agreement. We have no information on the extent to which the kidnapping of children occurred in Czecheslovakia as was the case in Poland. We do know that after SS Governor Heydrich was killed in 1942, a SS unit exterminated the entire male population of Lidice, a small village. Before doing so, the SS looked over the children and selected 91 as being worthy of "Germanization". The others were sent to special children camps (i.e. Dzierzazna and Litzmannstadti) and later to extermination camps. Few of these children survived.

Poland (1939-44)

Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 and defeated the Polish Army in a few weeks, introducing the world to Blitzkrieg warfare. They divided Poland woth the Soviet Union which after the German success invaded from the east. The SS frustrated with the minimal births at Lebensborn homes in Germany decided on a more direct appraoch--"Eindeutschung", the seizure and Germanization of racially suitable children in Poland. The SS kidnapped massive numbers if Polish children children who matched NAZIs racial criteria. A similar effort was made in other countries, but it was in Poland that the program was most extensive. The occupation of Poland was one of the most brutal in European history. Occupation aithorities, especially the SS, were under no legal or moral constraints as regards their conduct and the execultion of occupation policies. Poles had no recourse. The NAZI set out to eliminate the Polish intelgencia and reduce the rest of the country to a vast population of slave labor. It is estimated that a quarter of the populatopn of Poland perished during the occupation. I am not sure how these kidnappings took place and how organized they were and when and where they were carried out. Giving the numbers of children involved, there surely must have been a carefully organized effort by the SS. Some of the children were taken from orphanages. Others were taken from parents involved in the Resistance. I'm not sure to what extent children were seized off the street or from their homes. One source reports, "They kidnapped blond, naive children simply away from the road or removal them to parents, under false promises." [R. Abe, "Lebensborn e.V." Shoa.de website, retrieved May 3, 2002] There are reports of parents and siblings of kidnapped children were occasionally murdered or sent to concentration camps. Thousands of Polish children were transferred to special Lebensborn centers in order to be "Germanized". Most sources estimate over 0.2 million Polish children were kidnapped. They were subjected to a "arische" racial classification using the Arier tables. The most important criterion was the distance between forehead and back of the head. The result determined the child's fate. The children with highest classifications were adopted by SS families. Those with the lowest classifications were deported to concentration camps. The children at these centers were forced to reject and forget their birth parents. They were given a new German name and had to speak only German or be punished. Himler reasoned that the education process would be relatively easy because the German ideals "would reverberate in the sprit of the children who resemble is racially". With the younger children, the education process was relatively easy. They were sent to Lebensborn homes. The SS nurses there reportedly persuade the children that their parents had abandoned them. The children 6-12 years of age were sent to boarding schools. The older children were more of a problem. The older children who rejected the NAZI education program were often beaten. These children were not returned home. When it was determined that they would not accept Germinization, they were usually transferred to concentration camps. Other children who upon closer examination were not sufficently Aryan were also sent to concentration camps. The children that proved more receptive were adopted by SS and other German families. The non-SS familes were often not aware of where the children had come from and the circustances under which they had been obtained. As with the German Lebensborn children, the SS normally falsified the child's birth and other documents.

Denmark (1940-45)

We have no information on Denmark. We doubt if there were organized kidnappings because the occupation was less severe in Denmark. There may have been Lebensborn homes, but we have no information on this yet.

Norway (1940-45)

NAZI authorities considered Norway to be a rich source of Nordic breeding stock. There were no organized kidnappings that we know of, but some sources say that Norway was not imune to occasional NAZI kidnappings. More importantly, there were extensive liasons between German soldiers and Norwegian girls. More than 0.5 million German soldiers were stationed in Norway during the War. Virtually all the off-spring would be racially acceptable. Himmler regarded as direct descendants of the Wikinger, and therefore German soldiers were incouraged to have affairs with Norwegian womem. Lenensborn homes were established throughout Norway. One source suggests that there were nine homes set up, almost as many as in Germany. The homes were very attractive. The women got excellent care and good food. Conditions were very difficult during the occupation and the community would have been very hostile to women having the children of the German soldiers. Thus many Norwegian mothers made use of the homes and were treated as pampered recruits to the ranks of the NAZI master race. They had to agree to turning the baby over to the SS for repatriation to Germany. Records are incomplete, but estimates suggest up to 12,000 babies were born in these homes. [R. Abe, "Lebensborn e.V." Shoa.de website, retrieved May 3, 2002] After the German surrender, these homes were evacuated and records destroyed. While the rest of the country rejoiced upon liberation, the Lebensorn children were thrust into Mightmare lives". The mothers and other women who conorted with the Germans were despised and called "Deutschenhuren". They were treated as criminals and arrested. About 14,000 women were arrested. The children were often left to fend for themseles. They were shunned, taunted or physically abused by bitter and vengeful neighbors, teachers or other members of their local communities. Government doctors, psychologists, church officials and bureaucrats branded the children as everything from mentally retarded to harboring dangerous genes because of their parentage. The director of the Oslo Mental Retardation Home, for example, wrote that the Norwegian women who consorted with the Germans were menntally defective. Thus the children cairred this stigma. One girl tells of being beaten and bullied at school. Then her mother married a former resistance fighter - "a Norwegian patriot who hated me", she recalls. Then the beating and bullying was part of home life too. [Gerd Fleischer quoted in "Norway's 'lebensborn'," BBC News December 5 , 2001, 16:21 GMT] Often the children were institutionalized. Many of these Norwegian Lebensborn "war children" (krigsbarn) tell of terrible treatment in these instituations. Some of the "war children" in 2001 brought suit against the Norwgian Government, demanding compensation the ill treatment they say they received by Norwegian sosiety and especially by state officials. The plaintiffs claim their lives were ruined and they`re still suffering for the deeds of their parents, because their fathers were viewed as the enmeny and their mothers as traitors.

The Netherlands (1940-45)

The SS had more difficuly setting up Lebensborn homes in the Netherlands than in Norway. As in Norway, the NAZIs saw the Dutch as potentially valuable genetic stock. Reich Commissioner Seyss Inquart was not favorably disposed toward the program. As a result there were no operational Lebensborn homes in the Nertherlands. Dutch women who wanted to participate in the program had to apply to enter the German facilities.

Belgium (1940-44)

The SS opened the Ardennen Lebensborn home iwas opened in March 1943 at Wegimont bei Lüttich. Pregnannt mothers with Germanic blood were accepted as well as children fathered by Fremdlaendi members.

France (1940-44)

There was no organized kidnapping of children in France for Eindeutschung ( Germanisation ) as was the case in Poland and several other countries. The Germans had, however, a large occupation force in France. The inevitable result was a substantial number of children fathered by German soldiers. One estimate suggests 50,000 through May 1943. Himmler thought that the children of a French woman with a German soldier could produce suitable children for "Eindeutschung". Although not as entusiastic as with the children fathered by German soldiers in Norway, Himmler still saw the French children as "valuable German blood". The SS opened a Lebenborn home near Chantilly called Westwald. There were disagreements amomg the French as to how to deal with these children. Many were hostile. The widow of French General Huntzinger argued that they should be integrated into the French society. Despite the stigma of having a German boy friend, the women involved reportedly avoided the Lebensborn at Westwald because the SS insisted that the babies be given up for adoption in Germany. Another source of children was the many french prisoners and slave laborers brought from France to work in Germany and Austria. Some French men fathered babies, but these would be cared for by the mother. It was not the same for the women workers. They were obliged to give it up to a German family for adoption.

Yugoslavia (1941-45)

Hitler was forced to invade Yugoslavia in April? 1941 to come to Italy's aid in their aborted invasion of Greece. This delayed Barbarosa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, until June. Yugoslavia was divided. Some of the resulting states such as Crotia cooperated with the Germams. Other Yugoslav provinces resisted, especially Serbia. Part of Slovenia was actually incorporated into the Reich. I'm not sure to what extent the Lebensorn program was persued in Yugoslavia. There are light complectioned people in Yugoslavia and some of the children would have been of interest to the NAZIs.

Greece (1941-44)

We have no information on the Lensensborn program in Greece. As Greek children tend to be dark complectioned, the NAZIs may not have persued the program in Greece, but we have no information at this time.

The Soviet Union (1941-44)

The Germans could begin the Lebensborn program in Poland (October 1939). The Soviet invasion did not take place until June 1941 and by mid 1944 the Red Army had largely liberated the country. Thus the German control over Soviet territory was much shorter than their control over Poland and it was less through as active Polish resistance largely seized after the Government surrendeded. As a result, the conditions to execute the kidnapping of children were more limited than in Poland. We do not know to what extent these kidnappings were conducted in the Soviet Union. There were, however, large numbers of blond, blued eyed and thus racially acceptable children. The Wehrmcht did not penetrate deeply into the Russian heartland, and was driven back from the areas they did reach (December 1941). The Wehrmacht did occuply large areas of the Soviet Union, but much of it was the Baltics and Belarus, areas west of the Rusian heartland sized during the period the Soviet Union was a NAZI ally (1939-40). The Ukraine was, however, occupied by the Germans for about 2 years (June 1941-July 1943). We note an image of Himmer inspecting an unidentified Ukranian boy some time in 1941. One source estimates that about 50,000 Ukrainian children were kidnapped.

Baltic Republics (1941-44)

We also are unsure to what extent the Lebensnorm kidnappings occurred in the Baltic Republics (Lithianian, Latvia, and Estonia). We suspect that because the occupation was not as harsh in those countries where there was considerable sympathy for the NAZIs that the program was not vigorosly persued. But this may not have been the case. One source suggest that the NAZIs may have kidnapped 50,000 children were from the Baltic states.


R. Abe, "Lebensborn e.V." Shoa.de website, (retrieved May 3, 2002).

Jörg Albrecht "Rohstoff für Übermenschen", Artikel in Zeit-Punkte 3/2001 zum Thema Biomedizin, S. 16-18.

Bleuel, H. P., Das saubere Reich. Theorie und Praxis des sittlichen Lebens im Dritten Reich, Bern u.a. 1972, S. 192.

Catrine Clay, Michael Leapman "Herrenmenschen", Das Lebensborn-Experiment der Nazis, Heyne-TB (1997, vergriffen)

Marc Hillel and Clarissa Henry, "Of Pure Blood" (1976).

Georg Lilienthal "Der Lebensborn e. V.", Fischer Verlag (1993, vergriffen)

Dorothee Schmitz-Köster "Deutsche Mutter bist du bereit", Alltag im Lebensborn, Aufbau-Verlag (1997, vergriffen)

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