Cradles of the Reich uncovers a topic rarely explored in fiction: the Lebensborn project, a Nazi breeding initiative to raise the birth rate of “racially pure” Aryan children.
Lebensborn, which translates to Spring of Life, operated from 1935 to 1945 as a three- pronged program to produce more children of an elite race. The program targeted racially elite women with Aryan features offering a
solution to inconvenient pregnancies by placing them in Nazi-run breeding homes while also arranging sexual liaisons with Nazi of- ficers. All of its participants believed it was their patriotic honor to bear appropriate Nazi children. At its end, the program had produced 20,000 children. Lebensborn was also responsible for 200,000 kidnappings of Aryan children from invaded territories throughout the war.
Coburn takes the reader inside the bucolic Heim Hochland, one of the real breeding homes, where three women’s fates are irrevo- cably intertwined. Gundi is a pregnant university student from Berlin. An Aryan beauty, she’s secretly a member of a resistance group. Hilde, only eighteen, is a true believer in the cause and is thrilled to carry a Nazi official’s child. And Irma, a 44- year-old nurse, who is desperate to build a new life for herself. All three have everything to lose as they begin to realize they are trapped within Hitler’s terrifying scheme to build a Nazi-Aryan nation.
Compelled by her Polish-Jewish family’s experience from World War II forward and the warning they carried with them: ‘We are Jewish and we must always have an escape plan’, Coburn has taken the utmost care in shedding light on this little-known part of WWII history. Immersing herself in historical documents and films, taking courses at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and Tel Aviv University, she has done extensive research to reconstruct these shocking events with careful historical accuracy.