A precursor to the horrors of the Holocaust was the  Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour enacted as a part of the Nuremberg laws on the 15th September 1935.  The law forbade marriages and extramarital intercourse between Jews and Germans in order to segregate Jews and keep the bloodline pure of the ”Master Race”.

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Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad is best known as founding member of the Swedish pop group Abba.

The famous pop singer was born on November 15, 1945, and raised by her grandmother after the death of her mother Synni.

Lyngstad believed that her father, Alfred Haase, had died during the war on his way back to Germany as his ship was reported to have sunk. However, in 1977, the German teen magazine Bravo published a poster and a complete biography with details of Lyngstad’s background, including the names of her mother and father.

It was seen by Lyngstad’s half-brother, Peter Haase, who went to his father and asked him if he had been in Ballangen during the war. A few months later, Lyngstad met Haase in Stockholm for the first time.

This cultural icon is the most famous Lebensborn child

 

What was the Lebensborn Project?

The Lebensborn Project was a secret and terrifying Nazi project. Lebensborn translates to “fountain of life” designed for the ”Master Race”.

Heinrich Himmler founded the Lebensborn project on December 12, 1935, the same year the Nuremberg Laws outlawed intermarriage with Jews and others who were deemed inferior.  Himmler ”encouraged” SS and Wehrmacht officers to have children with Aryan women.

He believed Lebensborn children would grow up to lead a Nazi-Aryan nation.

 

The Purpose

Beginning in the early 1900s, Germany’s birthrate was in decline. Due to tough economic times, and a shortage of marriage-age men, particularly after Germany’s defeat on November 11, 1918 in the First World War, the use of birth control and women seeking abortions became common practices. By 1933, the birth rate per thousand was only 14.7%.

The Lebensborn Program was a method for the Nazi’s to reverse the birthrate decline and at the same time create a superior Aryan master race, which would dominate Europe as part of German Fuehrer Adolph Hitler’s Third Reich, or Thousand Year Reich. young girls who were deemed “racially pure”  were ‘encouraged’ to give birth to a child in secret.

 

Racial Purity Test

If a woman wanted to participate in the Lebensborn Program, she had to have blonde hair and blue eyes, no trace of any genetic disorders and she had to demonstrate her Aryan ancestry, as far back as her grandparents. She also had to prove the identity of the father, who also had to have the proper racial characteristics. Only 40% of the women who applied to join the program actually passed the racial purity test. More than 60% of Lebensborn mothers were unmarried.

The Lebensborn Program had its own registry office system to keep the mother’s and father’s identities a secret and most of these documents were burned at the end of the Second World War.

The Nazi’s believed that women from Norway were perfect for their program, as most were fair-haired with blue eyes. It is estimated that about 50,000 Norwegian women had affairs with German soldiers. They were thought of as German Whores, by other Norwegians and were disciplined with treatments like publicly having their heads shaved, once the war ended. Their children were taken away from them and most never saw them again.

The Nazi’s believed that women from Norway were perfect for their program, as most were fair-haired with blue eyes. It is estimated that about 50,000 Norwegian women had affairs with German soldiers. They were thought of as German Whores, by other Norwegians and were disciplined with treatments like publicly having their heads shaved, once the war ended. Their children were taken away from them and most never saw them again.

The SS Officers fathers needed state consent to marry and this consent depended on the officer’s prospective wife meeting the strict Lebensborn standards.

In 1936, an ordinance was issued advising every SS member that he should father at least four children. Many of the fathers of Lebensborn children were married members of the SS with their own families, who had obeyed Himmler’s order to spread their Aryan seed, even out of wedlock. Due to the secrecy of the program, the identities of the fathers were not recorded on birth certificates.

 

The Lebensborn Homes

In the beginning, the Lebensborn were taken to SS nurseries. But in order to create a “super-race,” the SS transformed these nurseries into “meeting places” for “racially pure” German women who wanted to meet and have children with SS officers. The children born in the Lebensborn nurseries were then taken by the SS. Lebensborn provided support for expectant mothers, we or unwed, by providing a home and the means to have their children in safety and comfort.

The first Lebensborn home was opened in 1936 in Steinhoering, a tiny village not far from Munich. Furnishings for the homes were supplied from the best of the loot from the homes of Jews who had been sent to Dachau. Ultimately, there were 10 Lebensborn homes established in Germany, nine in Norway, two in Austria, and one each in Belgium, Holland, France, Luxembourg and Denmark.

Himmler himself took a special interest in the homes, choosing not only the mothers, but also attending to the decor and even paying special attention to children born on his birthday, October 7th.

Kidnappings

One of the most horrible aspects of the Lebensborn policy was the kidnapping of children “racially good” in the eastern occupied countries after 1939. Some of these children were was orphans, but it is well documented that many were stolen from their parents’ arms. These kidnappings were organized by the SS in order to take children by force who matched the Nazis’ racial criteria (blond hair and blue or green eyes). Thousands of children were transferred to the Lebensborn centers in order to be “Germanized.”

These “Germanized” children were told that their parents were dead or had abandoned them and they were given new identities, including new names, birth certificates and even fake lineage and were then sent to Germany to live in institutions or with German families. Children two to six years old were sent to Lebensborn homes. The children who could not be “Germanized” were sent to concentration camps.

It is nearly impossible to know how many children were kidnapped in the eastern occupied countries. In 1946, it was estimated that more than 250,000 were kidnapped and sent by force to Germany. Only 25,000 were retrieved after the war and sent back to their families. It is known that several German families refused to give back the children they had received from the Lebensborn centers.

In some cases, the children themselves refused to come back to their original family – they were victims of the Nazi propaganda and believed that they were pure Germans.