Norwegian ″Lebensborn″ Children Sue the State | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 07.11.2001
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Norwegian "Lebensborn" Children Sue the State

The Nazis set up twelve “Lebensborn” clinics, as they called them, to breed a super-race. Today, once "Lebensborn" children are fighting for compensation.


Scene from the film "Spring of Life" on the Lebensborn tragedy

He was supposed to be a very special child. But he was rejected all his life. Paul Hansen was born in the Nazis" "Lebensborn" programme to produce Aryan children. His mother was Norwegian; his father a German Luftwaffe pilot. Paul didn't learn this until his early 20s.

Paul Hansen, Lebensborn child: "At the time, I was ashamed that I had a German father. Today I"ve accepted it, and I'm even a little proud of it."

Paul Hansen, was born in 1942 in the Lebensborn delivery ward in Oslo. Many other children were conceived and born in the same way.

The Nazis wanted to breed what they considered racially "superior" children. The aim was to entrust leadership of Norway to these "Aryans" after the war, or to have them and their mothers move to Germany to bring more "Nordic blood" into the German Reich.

Kare Olson, historian: "The Nazis said these children should be seen as "German-oriented advance posts in the Norwegian nation"."

Kare Olson wrote a book titled Krigensbarn - which means "War Children". In it, he says that when Germany lost the war, everything changed.

A Norwegian commission decided that the children should remain in Norway, rather than being taken to Germany. Many of the mothers were so ashamed that they gave their children up for adoption. Some were put in orphanages, others in lunatic asylums.

Paul Hansen: "I was transferred from the Lebensborn home Goodhaab into an asylum, together with some others. We were locked up together with mentally ill people. And we had to eat and go to the toilet in the same room."

In the Emma Hjort insane asylum near Oslo in 1947, mentally retarded children and adults lived crowded together in appalling sanitary conditions. The children were often tied to their beds for hours.

This is where Paul Hansen had to live, too. The chairman of the Norwegian War Children Association, Tor Brandacher, says this has marked him for life.

Brandacher, Chairman, Norwegian War Children Association: "It was the biggest shame to be here. Everybody who was here was looked upon as garbage outside these buildings. This was the biggest shame in Norway."