.. decide whether it is wrong to choose the genetic makeup of our children is not very far off. Some argue that we lack the wisdom to choose well (Lewontin, 1992). But, that hardly stops parents today from seeking to better the lot of their children through environmentally mediated efforts at enhancement. In a society that places so much emphasis on maximizing opportunities and achieving the most efficient use of resources it is hard to believe that pressures will not quickly arise on prospective parents to use genetic information and techniques for manipulating genes to better the lot of their children or of future generations of children.
For some, the historical abuses committed in this century in the name of eugenics are sufficient grounds for prohibiting or banning any efforts at any form of eugenics; positive or negative; individual or group. However, negative population eugenics is not individual positive eugenics. If most people agree that parents have a right if not a duty to try and maximize the well-being and happiness of their offspring, then it is not likely that the record of historical abuses carried out in the name of negative population eugenics will hinder efforts to incorporate genetic information into procreative decisions about our children and their immediate descendants. As it stands today, most parents, particularly those in the middle and upper classes, would probably be more troubled by failing to use genetic information to try and improve the lot of their offspring then they would by doing so. Eugenics sprang from the philosophy known as social Darwinism, which envisioned human society in terms of natural selection and suggested that science could engineer progress by attacking supposedly hereditary problems including moral decadence, crime, venereal disease, tuberculosis and alcoholism. German and American eugenics advocates both believed science could solve social problems, tended to measure the worth of the individual in economic terms and felt mental illness a threat to society grave enough to warrant compulsive sterilization.
And while Nazi Germany’s claims of Aryan superiority are well known, researchers said U.S. advocates of sterilization worried that the survival of old-stock America was being threatened by the influx of lower races from southern and eastern Europe. If you have ever had anything wrong with any of your relatives, which would include just about all of us, then you must talk to the genetic counselor. Genetic counseling guarantees only perfect children should be born, if we are going to have a master race, the rest must never see the light of day. Hitler did not invent the ideas of eugenics and a master race.
Margaret Sanger, eugenics pioneer, and her followers made no secret about their desire to eliminate persons with disabilities and to combat those racial and religious groups she deemed unfit. The first Lebensborn home opened was in 1936 in Steinhoering, a tiny village not far from Munich. Furnishings for the home were supplied from the best of the loot from the homes of Jews who had been sent to Dachau. Ultimately, there were ten Lebensborn homes established in Germany, nine in Norway, two in Austria, one in Belgium, Holland, France, Luxembourg, and Denmark. Himmler himself took a special interest in the choosing not only the mothers, but also attending to the decor and even paying special attention to children born on his birthday, which was 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 a large controversy among the people. Many Germans felt the acceptance of unwed mothers encouraged immorality. Eventually, Himmler backpedaled, but never condemned illegitimacy outright. Himmler himself had two illegitimate children.
The Lebensborn soon expanded to welcome non-German mothers. In a policy formalized by Hitler in 1942, German soldiers were encouraged to fraternize with native women, with the understanding that any children they produced would be provided for. Racially fit women, most often the girlfriends or one-night stands of SS officers, were invaded to Lebensborn homes to have their child in privacy and safety. Germans resorted to stealing racially acceptable children from occupied territories. Up to 100,000 children may have been stolen from just Poland alone. Some of these children were war orphans, but it is well documented that many were stolen right from their parents’ arms.
The criterion as stated before was blond hair and blue eyes (green eyes were also acceptable). This was one of the most horrible sides of the Lebensborn policy. Kidnapping of children racially goods in the eastern occupied countries. These children were forced to reject and forget their birth parents; they were told that their parents deliberately abandoned them. The children who refused Nazi education were often beaten and then transferred to concentration camps.
As the allies began to advance, the children who were in the various Lebensborn homes were withdrawn to interior homes. On May 1, 1945, the day after Hitler’s death American troops marched into Steinhoering. They found 300 children from the ages of six months to six years. Most of the mothers and the staff had fled. The British and Russians also found children at Lebensborn homes near Bremen and Leipzig.
The majority of these children were either put up for adoption or sent back to their birth families. Some of the children that were kidnapped in other countries who were living with families throughout Germany, were repatriated to their native countries, but most of them were too German, to fit in. Most of the children who were born in the Lebensborn program are still alive and many continue to suffer from their deep psychological scars. The Lebensborn children are now 55 to 65 years old. For many of them, their parents’ identities remained a mystery and their journeys and rediscovery have revealed horrible truths about their origins.
Searching for love, they have found heartache – they were victims on the other side of a twisted scheme to produce a Nazi super race. The lesson might be that the creation of a super race as planned by Himmler and Hitler was a terribly demented idea, indicative of the extent of their obsession with Aryan superiority and Nazi supremacy. The terrible results of Nazi Germany continue to reverberate even today, the evidence can be found in the shattered lives of the Lebensborn children. Despite modern assumptions that, American interest in eugenics waned during the 1920s, researchers said sterilization laws had authorized the neutering of more than 40,000 people classified as insane ore feebleminded in thirty states by 1944. Another 22,000 underwent sterilization between the mid – 1940s and 1963, despite weakening public support and revelations of Nazi atrocities. Forced sterilization was once legal in eighteen U.S. states, and most states with eugenics allowed people to be sterilized without their consent by leaving the decision to a third party. Theater.