For the first time, children raised in a Nazi program to breed blond, blue-eyed Aryans have met together as adults. Children from the Nazis' “Lebensborn”, or “Font of Life”, project gathered in the German town of Wernigerode to reflect on their origins.
Although the project has been well documented, many of the children never knew that they were part of it. Between 6,000 and 8,000 illegitimate children were placed in the home of Party members to create a breed of people that fitted the Nazis' physical ideal and could manage a future empire. The children were frequently selected for qualities the Nazis regarded as typically Aryan.
“This is the opposite example of the Holocaust,” says Gisela Heidenreich, from Bavaria, whose mother was unmarried and whose father was a senior SS officer. “The idea was to further the Aryan race by whatever means were available.” The first of these children to write a first-person account of Lebensborn, Ms Heidenreich says that this sinister program has parallels in contemporary interest in genetic engineering. Its evil must not be allowed to gather dust in history books, she says. “If we start engineering blond-haired, blue-eyed babies, can we blame just Hitler?”
Lebensborn was started in 1936 by Heinrich Himmler to counter Germany's declining birth rate and to assist families of the Nazi elite. There were 11 homes in Germany, several others scattered throughout Europe and possibly as many as 15 in Norway.
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