Victims of Nazi 'baby farms' tell their story

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The Independent Online

Children selected and "bred" by the Nazis for their Aryan qualities in Adolf Hitler's quest to build a master race gathered publicly yesterday for the first time to discuss the secret programme.

The so-called Lebensborn, or Fountain of Life, children were part of a lesser-known Nazi racial experiment. Some were the result of SS members encouraged to have sex with "pure-bred" women who would give the babies up for adoption. Other children in occupied countries were chosen for Aryan physical qualities, taken from their parents and given to married SS members to be raised.

"I was ripped away from my mother," said Folker Heinicker, 66, during an emotional tour of the Harz Lebensborn home the Nazis operated in the eastern town of Wernigerode, where members of Lebensspuren, or Traces of Life, were meeting; it was open to the public for the first time. The group was founded last year and two-thirds of the 60 members are Lebensborn. Others were fathered by German troops in occupied countries.

Many are trying to make peace with pasts they long kept cloaked because of shame. They are also asking questions, tracing their roots and demanding the truth about the programme.

Mr Heinicker was taken from his parents in Ukraine when he was two and placed with a wealthy couple in Germany. His experience with them was not bad and he still refers to them as "my parents". But he has never been able to race his biological parents, and his broken past has haunted him. "There was always a feeling inside that something was not quite right," he said.