The Lebensborn (which loosely means “Fountain of Life” in English) Program was created out of the need to “populate” Germany once the Nazis had won the war. The Nazis had long had a plan to first enslave the Slavic population whilst taking over their land, and then annihilate them completely. If Germany defeated the Allies, they would have a large plot of land devoid of citizens. Thus, the Lebensborn Program arose.
It began in the mid-1930s, in which unmarried “racially superior” women were encouraged to become pregnant and “donate” their offspring to the Reich. During the time of their pregnancy, they lived in Lebensborn homes, where some received regular visits from Himmler himself. Also included were programs in Norway, Austria, Belgium, France, Denmark, Luxemborg and the Netherlands as women from these countries were deemed “racially fit” to facilitate the birth of the next generation of the Master Race. While there are no exact statistics, it is known several thousand of such children were born from this program.
But where this bizarre program turned into outright cruelty began in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Unsatisfied with how quickly the initial program was able to produce children, the Nazis kidnapped Eastern European children from their parents in order to “Germanize” them. Of course, the children had to meet a certain racial criteria, such as light hair and eyes (among other criterion), and if they did, they were sent away to a Lebensborn program where they would “learn” to be Germans. While some of the children were orphans, most of them indeed, had parents whom they were stolen from.
Once in the program, children who were old enough were expected to learn German and appropriate the German lifestyle and its customs. The final goal was for each child to be matched with a German family who were either unable to have children or were willing to adopt a child. They would then be integrated into German society, providing more opportunities for reproduction and repopulation of Eastern Europe in the next few generations. They were encouraged to forget their parents and former lives.
Those who were forced into the program were from several different countries, mostly from Eastern or Southern Europe. However, the vast majority were from Poland. There is debate over how many children were kidnapped and estimates range from a conservative 10,000 to a much larger 200,000. While the exact number is not known, historians do know that most of the children never returned to their parents. Some had been killed, others were unable to find their parents after the war. And still some thought of their German families as their actual family and refused to return home.
Written by Anna Scanlon
www.annainwonderland.co.uk Lifestyle and Beauty Blog
http://www.youtube.com/TheAnnainWonderland YouTube Channel