Children of the Hated: the “Lebensborn” program of racial breeding

Lebensborn children in 1939 (© Timeline)

When Nazi Germany invaded and occupied Norway in 1940, it expanded a system of selective breeding to its Nordic captives. “Lebensborn”, as it was called, was a project designed to encourage unions between German soldiers and Norwegian women for the purpose of procreating offspring possessing what they believed was racially superior pure Aryan blood. The mothers and their children were offered state-supported child care and housing. It is believed that between ten and twenty thousand children were born to these unions. At the end of the war, the women were usually stigmatized and ostracized, and committed arbitrarily to mental institutions. Lebensborn child Anni-Frid Lyngstad, a lead singer of ABBA, ended up emigrating to Sweden with her mother. Only recently, in October of 2018, the Norwegian government officially apologized for the treatment of the Lebensborn mothers and children. In this program, first broadcast in 2005, producer and presenter Dheera Sujan speaks with some of those who experienced it.

Produced and presented by Dheera Sujan

First broadcast: April 10, 2005