Should we succeed in establishing
this Nordic race, and from this seed bed
produce a race of 200 million,
then the world will belong to us.
Mastermind of the Lebensborn Program
Everyone in the neighborhood admired the handsome young boy called Aleksander. Born in the Crimean town of Alnowa, he had blond hair and piercingly beautiful blue eyes.
When the child was 1 year and 10 months old, Hitler’s troops swooped into Crimea (which, at the time, was part of Russia). It was 1942, and Aleksander’s parents were about to experience something far worse than the German occupation of their town.
While Aleksander was playing outside of his parents’ home, two Nazi SS * officers spotted the child. The toddler fit a profile of children about whom the officers, like others in their unit, had been instructed. They were told to find … and … kidnap such children.
The SS officers took the boy from the front yard of his home.
Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS and one of Hitler’s right-hand men, had concocted a plan about creating a “master race.” The race would be Aryan-based. Its people would be strong with blonde hair, blue eyes and with not a trace of any features which appeared “Jewish.”
The program was called “Lebensborn”—meaning—“Fountain [or Spring] of Life.” The plan consisted of two very different parts:
- SS officers, considered supremely Aryan, would either have four children each, with their Aryan-appearing wives or, if that were not possible, they would father children with blonde-haired, blue-eyed Nordic women who were not their wives. In a sense, these offspring would be “Children of the Master Race.”
- SS officers would remove Aryan-appearing children from families living in German-occupied lands, have them tested to be sure they were non-Jews and then give the kidnapped children (after they were “re-educated”) to pre-approved Nazi couples who would raise the children as their own.
Aleksander, and his parents, were some of the unfortunates living in German-occupied territory.
After he was forcibly removed from his home, the toddler was taken to a town in Poland where he was examined. When he was found “worthy” of being “Germanized,” he spent about one year at Sonnenwiese (“Sun Meadow”), a large, institutional “home” for Lebensborn children in Kohren-Sahlis, near Leipzig.
At Sun Meadow, the kidnapped children were not provided with love and comfort from their attenders. Instead, the Lebensborn nurses followed the child-rearing advice of Dr. Johanna Haarer (for whom rules and strict order were more important than love and tenderness).
Beyond having no one to help them deal with their pain and sense of loss, the Lebensborn chilren were treated like products-on-a-shelf when potential adoptive parents came to visit:
The Nazi-faithful foster parents came to this Lebensborn home in Kohren-Salis where they selected the children they desired, almost like products from a catalog – they could choose their German child. If the foster parents did not like us, it was also possible to return the child. So the child was simply a product, stolen goods.
After completing his reeducation-adoption program, Aleksander was given to a German couple for adoption.
His real parents never saw their son again.
For decades thereafter, Aleksander was (and still is) known as Folker Heinecke.
His “parents” raised him well, providing him with love and a good education, but he never really knew who he was. Nor, apparently, did his adoptive parents.
I have had a good life and I loved my adoptive parents, even though they were Nazis. I was just without roots and it was these roots that caused me to spend over 30 years of my life looking for the secrets of the past.
I had a good upbringing after the war. My parents gave me a good education, spells in London, Paris and Ireland. They believed in Nazism at the time but they weren’t war criminals and always did right by me.
But of course they could not answer the question of who I was. They didn’t know.
After their deaths, Folker searched and searched and searched for answers. Who was he? Where was he from? Who were his real parents? Where were they?
Not until the Red Cross opened a major Holocaust-era archive, in the German town of Bad Arolsen, did Folker get a chance to find answers to his questions. His quest, even at the archives which focus on displaced persons, was not easy.
Sifting through documents, potentially applicable to millions of people, he was able to piece-together his childhood story. It was then that Folker learned his real name and the town of his birth. As reported in various newspapers:
The files showed that he was first taken to Lodz in Poland—the Nazis called it Littmannstadt—where SS “doctors” examined him to find out if he was “worthy” of Aryanisation.
“The files show I was measured everywhere – head size, body size, whether I had ‘Jewish Aspects’ or not,” he recalled.
“Then I was declared to be capable of being Germanised and was shipped back to the Fatherland.”
What Folker does not know, and what he would like to find-out, is what happened to his real parents. If he can learn those details, he would like to visit their graves:
The former shipping agent, who lives in Hamburg, now has one quest left in life: to discover the grave of his real mother and lay flowers on it.