Unwed mothers and the Lebensborn

Discussions on the role played by and situation of women in the Third Reich not covered in the other sections. Hosted by Vikki.
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Stephanie625
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Re: Unwed mothers

Post by Stephanie625 » 25 Feb 2014 20:09

Been a while since I posted here, and the discussion has been helpful in pointing out, again, that the number of "natural" illegitimate children could easily support an adoption program/unwed mother's home as the true intention of the Lebensborn (rather than the SS brothel theory promoted elsewhere in media). Is it the consensus of the group that this was the actual historical case? What about evidence, such as testimony from neighbors, supporting the idea of Lebensborn as a place where women were sent pre-pregnancy to "breed" a master race?

This Polish movie puts forward the latter idea:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdDDOFXPEqM

(It's a little disorienting that the Germans speak Polish, but you "get used to it". One historical discrepancy I found was the "train" scene, where the character sees what I assume to be a carload of Jews "going east" in the cattle-cars.... Only it's supposed to be 1939 or 1940, and we all know this was not going on yet, as the extermination program was not yet created.)

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wm
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Re: Unwed mothers

Post by wm » 25 Feb 2014 21:16

It's just an artsy movie written by a novelist. On the movie internet site there is nothing about any historical research carried out for that movie.
And this claim of the screenwriter is hardly believable:
in Jihlava - south Bohemia- where there was the Adolf Hitler Haus. Hitler himself designed lattices and tables for the house. Upstairs there was a washing room with a ceiling covered with bull blood. A very Spartan place such as at order knight castles in Germany. Above the entrance there is still a Lebensborn mark visible, the runes of life.
For Hitler a special road was built to the house, which had not any sexual undermeaning but it just added more mystery to the whole place.
The Leader sometimes came anonymously and mingled with the young.
Pramen života

And they speak Czech there as they use to in Czech made movies...

I would rather believe this:
The purpose of this society (Registered Society Lebensborn - Lebensborn Eingetragener Verein) was to offer to young girls who were deemed “racially pure” the possibility to give birth to a child in secret. The child was then given to the SS organization which took charge in the child’s education and adoption. Both mother and father needed to pass a “racial purity” test. Blond hair and blue eyes were preferred, and family lineage had to be traced back at least three generations. Of all the women who applied, only 40 percent passed the racial purity test and were granted admission to the Lebensborn program. The majority of mothers were unmarried, 57.6 percent until 1939, and about 70 percent by 1940.

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.

By 1939, the program had not produced the results Himmler had hoped. He issued a direct order to all SS and police to father as many children as possible to compensate for war casualties. The order created controversy.

Many Germans felt the acceptance of unwed mothers encouraged immorality. Eventually Himmler backpedaled, but he never condemned illegitimacy outright.
Jewish Virtual Library

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Stephanie625
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Re: Unwed mothers

Post by Stephanie625 » 26 Feb 2014 00:12

Thank you, wm! I myself made little effort to research the film, because the glaring factual error of Jewish people in cattle cars with barbed wire windows in 1939 was so astonishing, I could not believe that anyone with even a meager knowledge of the Third Reich could have been consulted the production of such a film, without that scene being the first to hit the cutting room floor. As usual I preferred to check on this site. My initial assumption of "something in the middle" of shelter for unwed mothers, adoption agency, and also a eugenics program with actual on-site conception seems somewhat supported by the quote you provide from the Jewish Virtual Library.

I'm not sure if everyone knows this yet, but I myself am a novelist in the early stages of my own WW2 project, and since I am involving the Lebensborn for a side character, the daughter of a party official, who already was pregnant, I want to be sure to find the proper beginnings for my research. I actually chose Steinhoering, where the estate was called Hochland, since the family is from Munich.

The problem is, there is so much misinformation to wade through. What I have read so far does not offer the best source material. I believe that this is because the subject is one that interests people for absolutely the wrong reasons, and writings/films are made more for (often lewd) entertainment than for education. So as I begin my selection of source material, I want to be extra careful. If you or anyone can recommend reputable historians who have published on the matter I would be in debt, but I will consult first this Jewish Virtual Library to see if they have sources to follow.

Stephanie

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Re: Unwed mothers

Post by Oberhessin » 26 Feb 2014 08:31

What I might add is, that unwed mothers often were not send to the nearest Lebensborn home. So people did not know they got a child. Munich and Hochland could be but it is not the rule.
If you want to do a propper research I would recommand to go to the Internation Trarcing Service Bad Arolsen. Their archive has the best collection of the Lebenborn.

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wm
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Re: Unwed mothers

Post by wm » 26 Feb 2014 19:26

There is an association dedicated to this subject and they have some interesting information on their web site here.

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Stephanie625
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Re: Unwed mothers

Post by Stephanie625 » 27 Feb 2014 04:22

I will check out both sites, thank you kindly!

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Another Lebensborn post...

Post by Stephanie625 » 04 Mar 2014 02:11

Hello! I am curious about prenatal care at the Lebensborn maternity homes. Did Himmler design or influence protocols for diet and exercise for expectant mothers?

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Annelie
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Re: Unwed mothers and the Lebensborn

Post by Annelie » 04 Mar 2014 15:05

Oberhessin,

Link certainly provides help for lots who are still looking but

Victims of Nazi persecution and their family members can receive information contained in the archives on request:
•Germans and non-Germans who were detained in Nazi concentration or work camps, ghettos and Gestapo prisons from 1933 to 1945.
•Victims of the Holocaust.
•Non-Germans deployed as forced labourers on the territory of the Third Reich during World War II.
•Displaced Persons who, after World War II, were under the care of international refugee organisations (UNRRA, IRO).
•Children (i.e. under 18 years of age at the end of World War II) of persons belonging to the above-mentioned groups and displaced or separated from their parents as a result of the war.

where can a German child born in that era of an German officer and unwed Mother find information?

thankyou

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Re: Unwed mothers and the Lebensborn

Post by Oberhessin » 04 Mar 2014 15:54

Annelie, Do you need explanation on this certain in the International Tracing Services?
I am not sure I understood the nature of your question, sorry. :oops:

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Annelie
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Re: Unwed mothers and the Lebensborn

Post by Annelie » 04 Mar 2014 15:59

Oberhessin, thankyou for quick reply.

An women whom I know is looking for information on her Father. She lives in Germany.
Her Mother was German and unwed when she had this women and now she wishes to find
any information on her Father. He was, she was told an German Officer, so the question
is, will this site be helpful for her perhaps or is it only those as they say were victims?

Thanks

history1
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Re: Unwed mothers and the Lebensborn

Post by history1 » 04 Mar 2014 16:09

Without a name the hole matter is just a guessing game, Annelie. Is the woman not in the possession of a birth-certicificate? Which name is mentioned as father on this document? Which steps did she already do to find any information about her father? Any results yet?

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Annelie
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Re: Unwed mothers and the Lebensborn

Post by Annelie » 04 Mar 2014 16:15

There was no name on her birth certificate and family members
who know anything are not saying.

Difficult for sure.
All she knows that he was an Officer and paid to have her Mother well looked after
during her pregnancy. As you say for her its a guessing game but still one
has to keep trying.

thanks

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Re: Unwed mothers and the Lebensborn

Post by Oberhessin » 04 Mar 2014 16:22

I am not sure if my answer is completely correct espacially on the legal terms. i will change to the German language then.
If an unmarried woman got pregnant, there was something like a "Vormundschaft". Responsible was the "Amtsgericht" in the certain part of the country this woman lived. Usually the files of the Amtsgerichte concerning "Vormundschaft" have to be collected in a Federal or regional archive.
Is there a connection to the Lebensborn?

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Annelie
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Re: Unwed mothers and the Lebensborn

Post by Annelie » 04 Mar 2014 16:30

Is there a connection to the Lebensborn
I did suggest that she may look in this direction but so far she is
not aware of this. One wonders though that the Mother has passed away
and only a few relatives know but they are not saying which makes on wonder
if maybe this could be the way to go?

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Re: Unwed mothers and the Lebensborn

Post by Oberhessin » 04 Mar 2014 16:37

is she living in Germany?
Ok, she is.
Then she should try to get the Vormundschaftsakten.

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