Nazi officers overseeing the baptism of a baby of the Lebensborn program. Germany, 1936. Photographer unknown. Source: German Bundesarchiv, via Wikimedia Commons.
That not-so-fine line between “Never Again” and “It’s not fascism when WE do it!” just got blurred yet again. This time, it’s by Israeli sperm-bank users, who are unconsciously copying a particularly dark chapter in German history:
Whereas the norm for women has usually been to find an intelligent Israeli male who’s also, as our love columnist Andria Kaplan would say, “tall, dark and handsome,” an Israeli sperm bank has noted that the new trend is for sperm donated by Israeli combat soldiers, former or present.
While having been active in the IDF seems to be the requisite, you get bonus points if you’ve served in a combat unit.
Ynet reported the news Sunday, after Rambam Medical Center noted the increase in requests for samples from IDF soldiers from women seeking insemination treatment.
“Women build for themselves an ideal profile and picture of who the future father of their children will be,” said Dina Amnipour, Director at the Ramban sperm bank laboratory.
That’s courtesy of the totally-not-ironically named Shalom Life (shalom means peace in Hebrew, remember?), which also celebrates the IDF’s totally-not-indiscriminate killing of Gaza’s Palestinian civilians, fully a quarter of them children. (I’ve totally not got my tongue planted firmly in cheek, here.)
Now, from the Jewish Virtual Library, a reality check, and a reminder of what this all reminds ME of:
“Lebensborn” translates to “wellspring of life” or “fountain or life.” The Lebensborn project was one of most secret and terrifying Nazi projects. Heinrich Himmler founded the Lebensborn project on December 12, 1935, the same year the Nuremberg Laws outlawed intermarriage with Jews and others who were deemed inferior. For decades, Germany’s birthrate was decreasing. Himmler’s goal was to reverse the decline and increase the Germanic/Nordic population of Germany to 120 million. Himmler encouraged SS and Wermacht officers to have children with Aryan women. He believed Lebensborn children would grow up to lead a Nazi-Aryan nation.
The purpose of this society (Registered Society Lebensborn – Lebensborn Eingetragener Verein) was to offer to young girls who were deemed “racially pure” the possibility to give birth to a child in secret. The child was then given to the SS organization which took charge in the child’s education and adoption. Both mother and father needed to pass a “racial purity” test. Blond hair and blue eyes were preferred, and family lineage had to be traced back at least three generations. Of all the women who applied, only 40 percent passed the racial purity test and were granted admission to the Lebensborn program. The majority of mothers were unmarried, 57.6 percent until 1939, and about 70 percent by 1940.
In the beginning, the Lebensborn were taken to SS nurseries. But in order to create a “super-race,” the SS transformed these nurseries into “meeting places” for “racially pure” German women who wanted to meet and have children with SS officers. The children born in the Lebensborn nurseries were then taken by the SS. Lebensborn provided support for expectant mothers, we or unwed, by providing a home and the means to have their children in safety and comfort.
It’s worth noting that this hush-hush program was condemned, and that it ultimately failed, on the grounds of immorality. Not because eugenics was in and of itself immoral (it would take a few more decades for THAT unsavory truth to finally dawn on the world), but because this program overtly encouraged unmarried women to have sex, typically with married men. The men in question were all selected from the ranks of the Nazi military hierarchy; fanaticism and “correct” physical traits were the selection criteria. The result was a spate of illicit affairs that created embarrassment for the men’s existing families, while leaving the other women and their children in poverty and disgrace, with no place else to turn, when the war ended.
Anni-Frid Lyngstad, better known as Frida of ABBA fame, was one of the unhappy children of that program. Her mother became pregnant by a married German army officer in Norway during the dying days of the war. Frida and her mother faced years of shame, and finally had to move to Sweden, as a result of all the cruel gossip and post-war revanchism. (It’s also worth noting that Frida, with her beautiful dark auburn hair, does NOT fit the Nazi ideal of an “Aryan” Nordic blonde. Nor, for that matter, do most Germans, including myself.)
Sperm banks were not yet a thing in the 1930s, if only because the technology to run them had yet to be developed. But if they had been, then the “immorality” question could have been skirted with ease, all in the interests of developing a super-race of super-soldiers for the Thousand-Year Reich. It probably wouldn’t even have mattered if the mothers were complete virgins. In fact, knowing how purity-obsessed the Nazi ideologues were, those prospective Blessed Virgins would likely have been the most highly prized breeders of all.
Just one more thing to think about when you blindly praise the morality of The Most Moral Army in the World™.