UC Santa Barbara > History Department > Prof. Marcuse > Courses > Hist 133D Homepage > 133D Book Essays Index page > Student essay
Breeding the Lebensborn Program
Of Pure Blood:
by Christopher Torrez
for Prof. Marcuse's lecture course
About Christopher Torrez
Christopher Torrez is a senior at the University of California Santa Barbara. He will be graduating in June 2010 with a B.A. degree in History. He also will commission as a second lieutennant in the United States Army and will serve as a signal officer. His main focus to do history was to gather knowledge of past mistakes of great leaders and to make sure he does not follow and repeat those mistakes made in the past. His primary focus of study is in the History of China and also has researched quite a bit about the Palestinian conflict that has been waging for what seems hundreds and hundreds of years.
Abstract (back to top)
This paper about the Lebensborn project is not in any way a paper on the Second World War and does not give any necessary details of who was at fault and what occurred. Rather, it gives a different perspective of how Germany faced with a two war front was about to continue this program within not only their country but other countries that allied with them. This paper embarks on explaining how detailed his project became and under what circumstances the Third Reich would take in order to see this program to be successful. With that, the paper gives a great deal of description of what the criteria, structure, placement, and leaders of those Lebensborns.
Essay (back to top)
16 March 2010
Breeding the Lebensborn Program
When people remember the Second World War they remember it as either two words; the Holocaust or genocide. The massed murder of millions of different nationalities and races concluded to what is to be known as the worst war crimes in history and the two men most responsible were Adolf Hitler and his most loyal general, Heinrich Himmler who single handedly created the final solution project. Although it seemed that the rulers of Germany had done such outlandish things such as murder and institute a second world war this was not their main intent and in fact, their main purpose was not to promote death and violence but was a national struggle to maintain life, the life of their ancestors, the life of the true Aryan race.
The signing of the Treaty of Versailles officially ended the First World War and started the destruction of German life. Article 231 of the Treaty of Versailles assigned blame for the war to Germany and much of the rest of the Treaty set out the reparations that Germany would pay to the Allies. All these restrictions imposed on Germany devastated its economy. Having only an armed force no more than a hundred thousand troops and conscription being abolished while also limiting its naval forces and further restrictions on manufacturing, importing and exporting of weapons, aircrafts, tanks, and armored cars left Germany’s economy in shambles. Not being able to make such commodities put Germany even further in debt and with the total sum of war reparations demanded from Germany, which was about 226 billion Reich marks. All these restrictions led to hyperinflation; needless to say Germany’s loss of able-bodied men facilitated Germany’s inhibition to recover from their defeat and to rebuild their lives.
After two decades of anguish and aid from generous nations, Germany finally was able to adequately maintain itself in all subjects except sexual productivity. The First War decimated the ranks of the young men. In Germany the disproportion between the numbers of young men and young women was perhaps even greater than elsewhere. “Only one of every four women between the ages of twenty-five and thirty could hope to find a husband,” (Hillel & Henry, 33). Germany put forth every effort to induce women to return to the old ways of how their ancestors lived, being domestic, in whom the most important part of a woman’s life was that she could bear children. The Nazis immediately after their accession to power, in the early 1930s, was to concentrate on the emancipated woman, which she was to be eliminated at all costs from public life, forced back into their homes. Nazis publicist Gobels compares women to animals:
"A woman’s duty is to be attractive and bear children. The idea is not as vulgar and old-fashioned as it might seem. A female bird makes itself beautiful for its mates and hatches out her eggs for him. The removal of women from public life… is only to restore their dignity (Hillel & Henry, 34)."
It seemed that Nazis used education methods of birth giving in school when schools instituted that their curriculums prepped girls for home life instead of university. On top of this, publicity for contraceptives was banned from the start. It was considered an act of sabotage interrupting pregnancy of their Aryan German women. German mothers were rewarded for multiple childbirths and had been decorated and belonged to a specific group called ‘Order to the Rabbit’ that entitled them to the Hitler salute from members of the party and all sorts of special allocations, allowances, and other privileges (Hillel & Henry, 33). According to a Nazi Party report published in 1935, births in Germany between 1915 and 1933 showed a drop of 14 million. Their many attempts to increase productivity needed greater success rate and thus came to create what was called the Lebensborn project.
Prelude to Lebensborn
Germany looked towards their past to create their future. Theorists in Germany felt a need to devote their focus to those of the Aryan race years before. Those of racial superiority of the German Teutonic origin. The Nazis theory is what was to be followed from now until German supremacy was established:
"The theory of the master race and of the ‘humanity of nature that exterminates the weak for the benefit of the strong’, the belief that ‘in old days the victor had the right to exterminate whole races and peoples’ thus the leaders of the Third Reich, successors to the Nordic heritage spontaneously chosen by their people, used the pretext of purifying the German race to initiate a process of planned reproduction on the one hand and extermination of the other (Hillel & Henry, 23)."
This ideal theory became the intended mindset of all living Germans. They are to be feared and will be known as the more supreme race and will annihilate any opposing people to stop their progress of efficiency.
The Fountain of Life
Initially set up in Germany in 1935 was the Lebensborn project, which was a Nazi organization, set up by SS leader Heinrich Himmler that provided maternity homes and financial assistance to the wives of the SS members and to unmarried mothers. These Lebensborns later acquired the ability to take in Aryan children and relocate them to other Aryan families to be Germanized. Although this was the original intent of this Lebensborn project, it soon evolved into a human stud-farm created by Heinrich Himmler. “To some writers the Lebensborns were maternity homes for unmarried mothers, to others they were brothels for the exclusive use of the SS,” (Hillel & Henry, 11). Himmler wrote in Circular dated 13 September 1936: The Lebensborn society objectives are: to support racially and genetically valuable large families, to accommodate and look after racially and genetically valuable expectant mothers expected to give birth to equally valuable children, to look after these children, and to look after the mothers of these children. Everyone soon began to catch that the real aim of those institutions was the breeding of a Nordic superior race with the men and women carefully selected in accordance with the racial principles of the Third Reich.
The Third Reich’s selection processes to be admitted to these Lebensborns were intensive and ‘selective’. Official party theorist, Hans Günter founded what the requirements should be “Tall, long head, narrow face, well-defined chin, narrow nose with very high root, soft fair (golden-blond) hair, receding light (blue or grey) eyes, pink white skin color,” (Hillel & Henry, 24). Only these individuals in whom perfection was seen by their perfect physique aspired to become the new Germanic race. Himmler’s perfect SS group of men was what he decided that no man was to be descended from the ape but instead from the SS group.
The Lebensborn homes were set up in the most ideal places that can hold numerous people in key spots, which allowed logistics and other supplies to get to these places easily. “They picked the best sites without regard to price; there had been plenty of fresh air and plenty of room. Villas, sanatoria, hospitals, private clinics, and children’s homes were largely reconstructed so they could be created into a new Lebensborn home,” (Hillel & Henry, 70). In each of these country settlements there were about a thousand women and a hundred men chosen for reproduction. Three hundred of these colonies would produce a yearly influx of a hundred thousand pure blooded Nordic Aryan children. During the heyday of the institution the homes were working all out, there were more than five hundred deliveries yearly (Waller, 166). However, there was dissatisfaction from some of the wives of the senior officers in the SS because they resented the presence of girls or women who had social and educational levels that, they felt, below their own (Hillel & Henry, 61). Most of those women who had been able to be admitted into the program were unmarried mothers who were pregnant. Those SS wives and high officer wives felt shame to be called Frau like these other women of lesser title had been called because many of those women admitted who were unmarried wished to conceal their identity. They wished not to be known because of Himmler’s practice of immoral acts and those who were of Aryan decree and were unmarried youthful woman were encouraged to participate in the Lebensborn program and have at minimum two children so that the Reich can be able to last for generations after. In doing so, the women did not have to give their name or anything of personal information so that they can obtain a regular reputation and be seen as an illegitimate birth mother. These were only some of the perks that were held at the Lebensborn houses all over the continent.
The Lebensborns had fine dinning and continued to during the war until the end of the war. Not only were Lebensborn inmates treated to porridge for breakfast but throughout the war they never went short of real coffee, tea, and fresh fruit. Frau Maria stated “During the war we always had fresh fruit; it arrived in truck-loads. We never went short of anything. It was a marvelous time, the best time of my life,” (Hillel & Henry, 67).
Enduring the Second World War
Upon the years of 1939-1945 the Lebensborn encountered a few logistical problems and resorted to kidnapping children of Aryan descent. The capturing of Norwegian had been prepared when in 1940 Dr. Ebner wrote to Himmler that it would be highly desirable to bring racially and politically valuable Norwegian women to Germany with a view that children are to be expected. Himmler responded, “This operation would be in accordance with the objective of transplanting purely Nordic women to Reich territory in large numbers because there is a special need of ‘nordicization’ in south Germany,” (Hillel & Henry, 86). The Lebensborn birth death rate was two percent higher than the German average for the same time period throughout the war. A letter from the VoMi [Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle] to the Lebensborn headquarters showed that there had been much success in kidnapping of children of ‘racial value’:
"Informing Dr. Ebner that the number of children from the Banat region had increased from thirty to 185; that a number of those children were said to be under the age of six; and that the exact number of boys and girls had yet to be established (Hillel & Henry, 192)."
With these new kidnappings, adoption because key to helping to ‘Germanize’ these new Aryan brothers and sisters. Having so many children ages six and under many of those childless SS wives adopted while their husbands were away on the battlefield or at the concentration camps shown below is all those children ‘recovered’ to be Germanized. Another possibility many Germans wanted to try was to artificially inseminate the women so that they could have children but without the act of having sexual intercourse. Dr. Conti continued to campaign for artificial insemination, which he regarded as “The only method by which pure blooded future generations could be produced in sufficient numbers. Unfortunately, Dr. Conti’s requests were denied on Himmler’s request saying that although artificial insemination was done to animals like cows, the German race will not be made artificially, they shall be made how they are intended to be made.
The Final Solution
The war was coming to a close with each German defeat and Himmler’s plan of a thousand year Reich was coming to be seen as unlikely. When interviewing Paula Hessler, she said, “The Lebensborns were Himmler’s hobby, you see. He had quite fantastic plans for them for the future. His first concern was for the children, then the mothers; he wanted them to live with their children and establish a home for them,” (Hillel & Henry, 104). Himmler’s main focus was to continue producing offspring for the German race in order to maintain and secure that the Reich would continue standing hundreds of years later. Himmler envisioned a future dominated by an elite band of racially pure as he wrote: How morally pure and elevated our forefathers were. So shall we be again or at least some of us will,” (Smith, 170). Himmler’s obsession grew as he seemed to devote more time to ruminating about postwar schemes to perpetuate and glorify a victorious Third Reich, even though he had lost faith in German victory as early as the middle of 1942 (Waller, 123). Himmler had a split personality, that which focused on a Germany he wanted to exist, a “thousand-year Reich” created by Nazi philosophy and the other all too aware of the reality of Germany’s fate under the hands of a ruthless Bolshevik enemy. He many times was told by his personal Doctor Felix Kersten to surrender to the allied forces to mitigate charges he faced.
Heinrich Himmler’s name stood as the symbol of the mass murders committed by the Third Reich. “It was Himmler who ran the SS, and it was his direct orders which sent millions of people to their graves during the years of Nazi domination,” (Smith, 1). However, Himmler seemed most perturbed about the suggestion that there would be a court to try those responsible for war crimes. Himmler states:
"I knew that the annihilation of the Jews was necessarily regarded by theAllies as the worst of the many crimes the Nazis had committed. This was not a crime at all because it was decreed by law. The Fuhrer ordered the annihilation of the Jews in Breslau in 1941. The Fuhrer’s orders are the supreme law in Germany (Manvell & Fraenkel, 164)."
Needless to say that at the Lebensborn trial at Nuremberg Sollmann said, “By Himmler’s orders, the organization was to have built 500 wooden houses at Smoscewo in Poland for exclusive use as mothers’ and children’s homes,” (Hillel & Henry, 104). Sollmann had told the tribunal that the project had in fact occurred and the site was actually marked out on the ground but only few houses were built.
After the war, those who were left and born in the Lebensborns were ostracized greatly. They had enjoyed delicious food and underwent a good lifestyle while many others died. Allies had gathered that by the end of the war two hundred thousand or more children had been kidnapped simply in Poland alone. “The Polish Red cross estimated more than forty thousand more must be added to the death toll from children of enforced abortion in the name of the purity of German blood,” (Hillel & Henry, 177). There was definitely no escaping the wrath of the SS men and the Nazis during this span of a little more than their ten years of supremacy.
Until the End
The pseudo-scientific theories about racial hygiene developed by man top level SS men let to indoctrinate the massed people being forcefully evacuated, removed, and exterminated. This was in view of their theory of Darwinism which was that their Teutonic-Aryan race, in order to maintain, had to defeat their struggle against the parasite Semitic race. Germans lived in their world of Teutonic mythology, which was “Germany’s capability to live in two worlds at once by projecting the imaginary world on to reality.
Following the war there were such trials like the RuSHA trial which were charged with kidnapping and although the court did find ample evidence of an existing kidnapping and forced movement program of children in the north-eastern Europe those individuals being accused where not the ones who carried out the kidnapping. The prosecution failed to prove any certainty the participation of any accused with the Lebensborn organization and those like Sollmann where found not guilty on counts one and two of the indictment. As for the kids who still were alive from the Lebensborn project, the war wounds are still open. Children are still searching for their parents and parents for their children. “And the files of the International Tracing Service at Arolsen show that few children whose father or mother had anything to do with the Lebensborn organization have succeeded in finding their parents; and when they have succeeded in tracking down a mother, in most cases the latter has refused to acknowledge the child,” (Hillel & Henry, 239). The children of this superior Nordic Aryan race are still asking today those same questions they did right after the war: who knows our parents and our origin? Who can tell us our names, where we come from, when we were born? German’s intention of breeding lasted only a total of a little over a decade but of all the Nazi organizations, the Lebensborn is still the most mysterious and most controversial topic that still has no official statistics of the amount of children bred and kidnapped for the sake of the Fuhrer and the sake of the Third Reich.
Annotated Bibliography and Links (back to top)(links last checked 11/21/10)
Books and Articles
Any student tempted to use this paper for an assignment in another course or school should be aware of the serious consequences for plagiarism. Here is what I write in my syllabi: