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October 16, 2022

Cradles of the Reich by Jennifer Coburn ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

Three women, a nation seduced by a madman, and the Nazi breeding program to create a so-called master race.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of historical fiction novel Cradles of the Reich by Jennifer Coburn
October 2022; Sourcebooks Landmark; 978-1728250748
audio, ebook, print (320 pages); historical fiction

I read a lot of WWII fiction and it always amazes me that there are still parts of the war that have never been written about in popular fiction.  Jennifer Coburn did extensive research on Nazi state-supported homes where unwed mothers who were deemed to be perfectly Aryans could be pampered until they had their children and then the home arranged for the children to be adopted mostly by SS members. Many women volunteered for the 'breeding program' to do their part for Germany in the war. She tells this unique story using three women who were at the home at the same time but had totally different backgrounds and views of the Nazis. Two of the women are patients at Heim Hochland, a real Nazi breeding home in Bavaria, where they are awaiting the birth of their children and one of the women is a nurse working at the maternity home. 

 Gundi is a pregnant university student from Berlin. She is beautiful and deemed a pure Aryan but the authorities don't know that she is a member of a resistance group.  She is also hiding a big secret about the father of her baby and knows that when the truth comes out, it will likely cause her death and the death of the baby. 

Hilde, only eighteen, is a true believer in the Nazi regime and knows that if she gets pregnant with the child of a Nazi official, her life will be wonderful.    She is assertive and difficult and feels like she is superior to the rest of the women at the maternity home.

Irma, a 44-year-old nurse, is desperate to build a new life for herself after she breaks up with the love of her life.  She had worked as a nurse in WWI and saw so much death that she was excited to work in a maternity home and see beautiful births.

This well-researched book about a little-known subject gives the readers a look at a very dark time in WWII history.  Women were only appreciated for their ability to have babies and women who had four babies were given The Cross of Honour of the German Mother.  

This is a book about hatred and the need to breed perfect children but the underlying theme is that there is always a light of good - no matter how small - even in the darkest times.

If you enjoy WWII fiction, you don't want to miss Cradles of the Reich.

Buy Cradles of the Reich at Amazon

Additional Information: Lebensborn e.V. (literally: "Fount of Life") was an SS-initiated, state-supported, registered association in Nazi Germany with the stated goal of increasing the number of children born who met the Nazi standards of "racially pure" and "healthy" Aryans, based on Nazi eugenics (also called "racial hygiene" by some eugenicists). Lebensborn was established by Heinrich Himmler, and provided welfare to its mostly unmarried mothers, encouraged anonymous births by unmarried women at their maternity homes, and mediated adoption of children by likewise "racially pure" and "healthy" parents, particularly SS members and their families. 

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.  You can connect with her on Facebook.

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