By Kulbhushan Kain
I have visited Germany more than once. Not just as a man who loves to travel, but also as a teacher and student of history. I find it strange that very few people talk about Hitler in Germany or Austria – the moment you start a conversation about him, they short circuit it. Not only do they hesitate to talk about him – they also avoid discussing buildings made by the Nazis during his time. It took a huge effort on my part to find where Hitler’s bunker was during the Second World War in Berlin, as also the fact that Sangeeta and I were the only visitors at the Thingstätte – an open-air theatre in Heidelberg, Germany, built during Nazi rule, for performances and events. It is beautiful – shaped like an egg.
It, therefore, comes as no surprise to me, that so few know about the Lebensborn, or for that matter, Hitler’s British girlfriend or Hitler’s views on women. What however surprises me, is WHY so many people bought the repulsive ideas he sold.
Lebensborn is an ancient German word, twisted and distorted by the word-smelters of Hitler, into a uniquely disturbing shape. What did it mean in the mad lexicon of Nazism?
Hitler was obsessed with the superiority of the German race. He was convinced that German blood is purer than any other blood. To preserve this superiority, he spilled the blood of young men on the battlefields of war; spilled the blood of civilians old, young, women, healthy, infirm — that ran in the gutters of cities, towns, and villages across Europe; the blood of millions destroyed in the pogroms and death camps of the Holocaust. I visited concentration camps at Dachau and Auschwitz- trying to figure out something about the madness.
“Good blood” for the Nazi was an idea – precious ICHOR, (Ichor is supposedly liquid that flows in the veins of Gods and Goddesses) to be sought out, preserved, and expanded. And with it, the inevitable counterpart: “bad blood”, to be identified, and then ruthlessly eradicated.
War was just one such tool. Lebensborn was another.
Lebensborn was a state sponsored programme whose aim was to increase the birth of blond haired, blue eyed children through “interbreeding”. Racially “pure” women were chosen to sleep with SS Officers (full form “Schutzstaffel”). The SS was the foremost agency of security, surveillance and terror within Germany and German-occupied Europe. It was a dreaded wing of the Nazi Party which ran concentration and extermination camps, and the Gestapo.
Read what one such woman, Hildegard Trutz, who was the supporter of Hitler and the Nazi party said, years later, “I was pointed out because I was the perfect example of the Nordic woman for, besides my long legs and my long trunk, I had broad hips and pelvis built for child bearing.”
Once it was established that she had no Jewish blood in her ancestry, Trutz was escorted to an old castle in Bavaria near Tegernsee. Here she would have the choice of selecting a breeding partner from among the SS Officers. The castle was the height of luxury and after “checking in”, along with 40 other “Nordic women”, she started to enjoy her life. There were common rooms for sports, games, music, a cinema hall. None of the women had to work because there were a mass of servants. A Senior SS Officer, who was incharge, made the rules very clear at the outset:
1. They would sign a document that their family never had any cases of dipsomania, or imbecility; and
2. They would have no claims to the children they produced because the children would be the property of the government.
Trutz and the other girls were then introduced to the SS Officers who were the prospective fathers, and given a week to choose their partners. She said that she liked what she saw – the men had smashing looks, were well built, and like the women had blond hair and blue eyes.
In the social evenings, fantastic food and drink were served. The group saw movies and played games together. However, the names of the men were kept a secret and anonymity was to be maintained at all time.
After a week, the women had to make a choice!
Trutz chose an officer who she thought was unbelievably smashing, though a bit stupid!!!!
The officer slept with Trutz for 3 nights. He also slept with the other women during the week.
Trutz became pregnant almost immediately and was moved to a maternity home for the next nine months. When the boy child was born to her – she weaned him for 2 weeks, before he was moved to another specialised maternity home.
Trutz and her fellow inmates never saw their children again – or for that matter neither did the father of their child. She never came to know what happened to the child, subsequently. It is estimated that 20,000 children were born during the Lebensborn programme!!
It is strange that something like this happened less than 75 years ago.
Hitler was a strange man. We must never forget him because, as George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot learn from History – are doomed to repeat it.”
(Kulbhushan Kain is an award winning educationist with more than 4 decades of working in schools in India and
abroad. He is a prolific writer who loves cricket, travelling and cooking. He can be reached at kulbhushan.kain@ gmail.com)