Cheryl's Pick: "Cradles of the Reich" by Jennifer Coburn
Cradles of the Reich by Jennifer Coburn is based on historical events. In several countries during World War II there were places called Lebensborn Society maternity homes. In these homes, babies were bred to be “racially fit” and taken from their mothers to be adopted out to families.
The three main women in the novel are Gundi, Hilde, and Irma. Gundi is from Berlin and pregnant. She is also a secret member of the resistance and the father of her baby is a Jew. Hilde is eighteen and ecstatic to carry a Nazi official’s baby. Irma is a forty four year old nurse.
The only way women are allowed to keep their babies is if they marry their baby's father. For Gundi, that means she has to secretly try to find the father who has been taken to a concentration camp. Then there is Hilde. She will do anything to have the Nazi official’s baby even though he his already married with a family. The nurse, Irma, is very sad about how the girls are treated but there is very little she can do.
This book covers a little known part of Nazi Germany. Not only did unwed pregnant German women come to the Lebensborn Society homes, there was a breeding program as well. Many women felt it was their “duty” to have children.
This book serves as yet another reminder that we must never forget what occurred during World War II.