Lebensborn: The Nazi’s Breeding Program to Create ‘Master Race’

Origins and Purpose

During the Hitler regime, there was a program called Lebensborn, through which an estimated 20,000 babies were born over 12 years. The Lebensborn program was an experiment in the creation of a strong army. It was the idea of Hitler who wanted to create a superior race in humans.

So they started by raising the birth rate of “Aryan children” – people who were considered pure and ‘healthy’ based on Nazi racial hygiene and health ideology.

Establishment and Ideology

In 1935, the Lebensborn program (meaning ‘source of life’) started operating in Nazi Germany. Its founder and principal ideologue were Heinrich Himmler, commander-in-chief of the SS and one of Hitler’s closest collaborators.

According to the dictates of the SS, the parents of children who were to rule the world in the future had to be descendants of Aryans, that is, blonde-haired and blue-eyed individuals. The child born from such a union should have these racial characteristics, which was the notion that the Nazi elite had about the ideal of the future man.

Precursor and Expansion

The precursor to the Lebensborn project was the organization “Mãe e Filho” (Mother and Child), created in 1934. It allowed single mothers to give birth to children in shelters, where the state cared for both mother and child. This was one of the links in the official Nazi demographic policy, aimed at reducing the number of abortions and increasing the number of future Reich soldiers.

Initially, the women considered most suitable for the “future rulers of the world” were Germans and those from Scandinavian countries, particularly Norwegians, who were believed to have descended from the ancient Vikings and thus possessed “Aryan blood.”

However, as World War II broke out, the scope of the program was proposed to be expanded.

Abduction of Slavic Children

It was observed that in the occupied Slavic states, there were many young blonde women who could be taken to Germany and educated with the “Aryan spirit.” Thus, they began to select children with an appearance similar to that of the “superior race” and take them from the occupied territories.

The first victims of the Lebensborn program among the Slavs were Polish children, as Himmler and his subordinates tried to “Germanize” Poland and destroy Polish national identity. According to Warsaw data, between 150,000 and 200,000 Polish children were forcibly displaced during the war years.

The “Racial Value” Evaluation

“Nordic-looking” children from Slavic countries (Serbia, Czech Republic, Poland, and the USSR) were taken to a children’s concentration camp in Lodz, Poland, with a capacity of up to 20,000 people. Doctors and a specialized team would determine the “racial value” of each child based on the color of their eyes and hair, the shape of their skull, and their height. They also had to be in good health.

The children were then taught the German language, and if they missed a word in their native language, they were mercilessly beaten. This developed a conditioned reflex in the children, making them speak only German to avoid punishment. If they passed this “Germanization” process, which typically took three or four months, they were given to a foster family, and their Slavic origin was kept secret.

Post-War Aftermath

After the Allied victory in 1945, hundreds of thousands of Slavic children remained in the area of Germany where American troops entered. A small part of the Lebensborn file fell into the hands of the Americans, who later conducted interrogations in 1947 to find out whether the children wanted to return home or not.

The Lebensborn director, Max Zollman, was taken to the Nuremberg court in 1947 and received a sentence of fewer than three years in prison “for being a member of the SS.” He was able to convince the court that Lebensborn was a charity that did not kidnap children but “saved them from the horrors of war.”

Today, in Germany, there are hundreds of thousands of children descended from Slavic children evacuated during the war, unaware of their origins.

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