Sun Jan 20th, 2008 at 07:03:08 PM EST
The chosen ones: The war children born to Nazi fathers in a sinister eugenics scheme speak out
20 January 2008 23:48 Home News > Europe in The Independent
They were the blue-eyed blonds born into a sinister SS scheme to further the Aryan race. But the defeat of the Nazis left Norway's 'Lebensborn' facing the vengeance of an entire nation. Here, five former war children talk for the first time about their ordeal - and their fight for compensation
Ellen Voie says she was locked in a dark room by her adoptive parents ©Portraits by Lucinda Marland other pics 1 2 3 4
By Rob Sharp
They stare blankly into the lens, their lips tellingly pursed. All are the Norwegian subjects of a terrifying Nazi experiment. All were involved in one of the most shocking trials of eugenics the world has ever known. All are Lebensborn - the "spring of life". And all are here to tell their stories for the first time.
The Lebensborn Society was born on 12 December 1935, the brainchild of Heinrich Himmler, Hitler's right-hand man and head of the SS. He had designed a project to promote an "Aryan future" for the Third Reich and turn around a declining birth rate in Germany. People were given incentives to have more children in the Fatherland as well as in occupied countries, most importantly in Scandinavia, where the Nordic gene - and its blond-haired, blue-eyed progeny - was considered classically Aryan.
But after the conflict had ended, many of the Norwegians born into the programme suffered. In an attempt to distance itself from the occupying forces, the Norwegian government publicly vilified the children born by Norwegian mothers and Nazi fathers. Many of those children subsequently experienced intense bullying, and in some cases, extreme mental and physical abuse. In recent years, a Lebensborn group in Norway has been fighting what it sees as the Norwegian government's complicity in their horrific ordeal.
Now, these once-persecuted children, many of whom are in their sixties, have been brought together by British photographer Lucinda Marland, who travelled to Norway to interview them and take their portraits, Full story in The Independent...
I personally know a Lebensborn who was adopted from an orphanage by a Norwegian family when he was 10 years old. He recounted that unknown to his adopted father who died when he was a teen-ager, he experienced extreme bullying in the hands of his own adopted cousins and at school because of his origins. At the beginning he didn't understand why the cruelty. When his adopted father died, he tried his best to find out more about his real parents and learned that he was the offspring of a Nazi paratrooper and a Norwegian peasant girl.
He was drafted into the Norwegian Army and confessed that he liked life in the Army. Later on, he went to live and work in Germany where he became fluent in the language. He says he likes the German spirit, their efficiency, their discipline and Germany's overall culture of no-nonsense approach to life. He now lives in Norway but goes to visit Germany often.
I don't pretend to be a psychologist but I have a suspicion, that his sentiment towards everything German is a way of expunging the nightmares he experienced during his growing up years.