December 12, 1935: Heinrich Himmler establishes the Lebensborn program.

Lebensborn (“Fountain of Life”), a program administered partly by the Schutzstaffel, aimed to reverse Germany’s declining birthrate while also supporting “racially, biologically, and hereditarily valuable families with many children”. If successful, Lebensborn would result in the creation of a new generation of Germans created in the image of the blond, blue-eyed Nordic ideal - a master race. That same year, the statutes that represented the flip side of Nazi racial policy - the Nuremberg Laws - were issued. 

Lebensborn clinics provided various different services; one was to enable unmarried women to become pregnant and give birth away from their homes (provided they pass a “racial purity” test), and by 1940 over two-thirds of women who participated in the program were unmarried. It also allowed German families to adopt and raise racially valuable children taken from occupied European territories, both those willingly given up and those taken by force. The institution established facilities across Western and Northern Europe, including as many as fifteen (more than the number of total facilities in Germany itself) in Norway. Between 8,000 and 12,000 Lebensborn-supported babies were born to German men and Norwegian women, and these unions were looked upon favorably by German Lebensborn administrators, due the romanticized image of racially pure Viking warriors closely associated with Norway (and Scandinavia in general) in Nazi propaganda.

After the war’s end, however, these “war children" and their mothers, branded as traitors and whores, were severely mistreated by their own countrymen. The sensationalized postwar idea that racially pure women were forced to procreate with SS men has proved mostly untrue; in fact, the most controversial part of Lebensborn was that, during the war, its facilities were used to house and forcibly “Germanize” perhaps thousands of non-German children who were kidnapped for their traditionally “Aryan” traits. 

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    December 12, 1935: Heinrich Himmler establishes the Lebensborn program. Lebensborn (“Fountain of Life”), a program...
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