Cover Image: Cradles of the Reich

Cradles of the Reich

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Every time I think I'm done reading about WWII I pick up a book like Cradles of the Reich and find there is still so much to learn about Nazi atrocities. Cradles of the Reich is based on a real-life top secret Nazi program designed to breed racially "superior" Aryan babies, whether by stealing babies from enemies and dissidents or by selective breeding with top Nazi officials and young Aryan girls. Frightening and disgusting and so, so easy to picture happening when people are led by fear.

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Cradles of the Reich by Jennifer Coburn handles a heinous and painful aspect of the Nazi regime in a multi-dimensional novel featuring three very different women brought together in a program designed to increase the Aryan race. The Lebensborn Society or "Spring of Life" was a secret Nazi program that focused on desirable, pregnant women who would be offered protection through their pregnancies. These babies would then be given to deserving German families to raise. The Society also supported unmarried women having relations with Nazi higher-ups with the aim of producing more babies. The Nazi regime was zealous in its desire to increase the Aryan population at the same time the Jewish population was being decimated.

Gundi, Irma and Hilde represent the three prevailing belief systems under the Nazis: Gundi is the resistor, Irma makes the best of a situation she does not like and Hilde is a supporter of Nazi principles. This is one of the strengths of the book: the reader observes each of the characters developing according to her beliefs. And these beliefs pretty much represent the thinking of the population at large----resist, appease or embrace.

While the three main female characters in the novel are fictional, many real-life persons are in place as well such as Heinrich Himmler, Dr. Gregor Ebner and Anna Rath.

The rescue of Gundi and her newborn daughter from Lebensborn may seem somewhat contrived and simple considering how dangerous any attempt at escape was during these terrible years of Nazi rule.

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There are some books that make you think. Others that teach you something or change your perspective, often giving you insight into why people do the things they do. And yet others that take you on a journey that will stay with you long after you finish reading. For me, Cradles of the Reich did all three. It will be one of the best historical fiction books I read this year.

I was aware of the Lebensborn Society in passing. I had read about it in a very limited capacity and didn't realize the many aspects of the program, all in an effort to produce perfect children for the Third Reich.

We follow the stories of three women who find themselves at Heim Hochland in Bavaria, one of the many homes part of the Lebensborn Society. Gundi is a pregnant high school student, also part of the resistance, who has a big secret to protect. Because of Gundi's perfect Aryan features, she is taken to Heim Hochland, Hilde is a believer in all things being done by the Third Reich and the effort to achieve racial purity. She will go to any length to carry out what she sees as her mission. Irma is a nurse at Heim Hochland who is trying to get over her own losses and who doesn't quite seem to know exactly where she stands on everything.

All three women have a lot to lose should their secrets get out. They each have a role to play and must play it to survive in an era we can only imagine in our present day.

I have long wondered what would lead a person to buy in to what Hitler did in his drive to eliminate the Jewish race and anyone else seen as unfit to even exist. The lengths people would go to help him in his mission and the secrets people were willing to keep.

Just when I was shocked and heartbroken over what was going on in this story, especially knowing that these things did happen, I was reminded that even in the worst of times, there are always good people. There are people on the side of what is right and they are willing to do whatever they have to in aid of others, even if it means losing their own. life.

This book took me on such an emotional journey. It is amazing what people believe when it is presented in a certain way. It is also amazing what people will refuse to believe no matter how it is presented.

In addition to writing a fantastic book, Jennifer Coburn's note at the end sheds light on another aspect to this story, a reason for her writing it. I highly recommend reading it after finishing the novel.

This book is still in my thoughts a couple of weeks after having finished it. I know it will stay with me for a long time.

I voluntarily received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks Landmark. All views are simply my honest opinion.

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Cradles of the Reich emphasizes the desire that Hitler and the Reich demanded to establish a master race in Germany during the war years. Aryan women and children were selected to promote his cause and given exceptional treatment. This book explores those ideas with an intensity that keeps you constantly in suspense as the lives of the participants were always in danger of revelation of their closely held secrets. The various means that people use for survival is astounding and makes for an engrossing read.

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“Was her mother willfully ignorant of the fact that Germany was growing increasingly dangerous? Or did Elsbeth not care because she believed that she and Gundi were immune from it?”

“Hilde pitied them. These women were weary relics of a lesser Germany, while most of Hilde’s years would be lived in a modern, progressive Germany, that of the Third Reich.”

I was up until 4am finishing this book. It started out slow as the three main characters were introduced; Gundi, Hilde and Irma. I skimmed through a lot of their back stories throughout the book because I was mostly interested in what was happening with the Lebonsborn Society. Once the three women arrived at the maternity home—for different reasons—I couldn’t stop reading.

This was truly another horrifying Nazi program that I could hardly believe was true. But in the author’s notes at the end, she shares her research and it was an actual secret program designed to give babies to high-ranking Nazi officials and other German families in good standing with the National Socialist Party.

It’s frightening to think about how repeated lies can evolve into an alternative reality. As the author states, “How had they become so indoctrinated that they viewed having a child for Hitler as their patriotic duty?” They truly wanted to believe the Nazi propaganda that a “better world” was going come, through the Third Reich’s progressive ideals and dictatorship. (Sound familiar?) As we know now, that didn’t work out so well for them.

Advanced reader copy courtesy of the publishers at NetGalley for review.

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This was a very interesting and well written historical fiction about the Lebensborn Society maternity homes in Germany. This story specifically takes place at the beginning of WW2. The story followed 3 women, one nurse and two younger expectant mothers.

I had heard about this program, but had not read anything in depth regarding this society/program. It was interesting to read the different perspectives of the three women. I greatly appreciate the author's notes as well, which further explains why she wrote the three stories as she did. And based on the author's own family history, I appreciate her telling of this story. The only thing I wish is there was a little more to the story - there is still a lot of story that could be told, but that is just a personal preference.

I received a copy of this book from netgalley.

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So good! I love how the author wrote this novel from there very different point of view characters. Based on the true story of women who were used to expand the Aryan race and often these babies were given to families of high ranking loyalty to Germany to be raised. Told from three different women, we see the struggles and beliefs that was happening at the maternity homes. Irma is giving an opportunity from an old friend and decides to start a new and put her nursing skills back to use again, but not long after she arrives at this home does she start hearing and seeing things that make her start to question the real reason for this house. Hilde cannot be more proud, as she is carrying a high ranking Nazi officers baby and this will give her all she has wanted and to prove herself to the Germany but things do not go as planned and Hilde is not one to be trusted. Gundi is a pregnant university student who is keeping a secret and it won't be long before all is revealed. All three of these women find themselves at the maternity home and each one has a different choice to make. I really loved this novel, I learned so much! Thank you to Suzy Approved Book Tours for the invite and the author for the free novel.

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Most were aware of the Hitler Youth Program, but prior to this historical novel based on factual accounts, they never realized how trapped all (especially the young) were trapped in the horror that was Hitler's Germany. The details uncovered makes you rethink much. It's big brother at his worse.

This is a must read for those who value being informed while reading a page turner. Highly recommended.

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Cradles of the Reich presents us with 3 narrators, all women participating in the Nazi breeding program, Lebensborn Society.

Gundi is a "pure" Aryan woman who finds herself pregnant and forced to move to a Lebensborn run maternity home to birth her child, she had a secret that could endanger her and her baby's life. Hilde is a young woman, fully indoctrinated into the Nazi party, and enthusiastic to be part of the program. Lastly Irma is a nurse who comes to the maternity home to assist the young women with birthing their babies, initially she is ambivalent about the Nazi cleansing policies, but eventually she educates herself and becomes uncomfortable with the processes in place.

Overall, I am rating this book 3.5 stars, rounded down. The writing was clear and we'll done, and this novel was obviously well researched and grounded in a horrifying truth, however for me I found for me as a reader. there to be a certain lack of concern for the safety of the characters. Gundi manages to work through a situation that could have been terrifying but it lacked tension. The ending was overall unsatisfying because of the lack of overall closure for several storyline. Granted not every novel needs to tie up all loose ends neatly, I still found the questions I had at the end outweighed the answers.

I appreciate that this novel was a new perspective on WWII and an aspect I had never read about previously, and I also appreciate how difficult it must have been to channel a narrator who is indoctrinated to the Nazi party and way of thinking.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for the electronic ARC copy of this novel for review.

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I am amazed that so many years after World War II, I am still learning new things. The horrible things went on and on. Three women end up in a home for pregnant girls. One is a nurse, one is carrying a child of her Jewish lover and one is having a child of a high ranking Nazi. Girls are also being trained to be perfect mothers and housewives, but are prostituted. I am hoping this book gets a sequel. The end left me wanting more.
Thank you , NetGalley, for the opportunity to read this ARC!

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A heartbreaking account of the Lebensborn Society. Well-written and easy to follow, Cradles of the Reich brings to light the atrocities of this program and the impact it had on the girls recruited for the roles.

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The lives of three women become intertwined in this novel set in Germany in World War II.

Each of the three women characters is a participant in the Nazis’ Lebensborn program - one of the Third Reich’s little known, state sponsored organizations. The purpose of this program was to breed pure Aryan children who would populate the future Third Reich. Young women who were deemed to be racially pure were used to breed babies who would be adopted and raised by loyal Nazi families. Lebensborn homes were scattered throughout the country.

Gundi is a beautiful blonde young woman who epitomizes the Aryan look. She is sent to one of the homes where her baby will be taken from her and adopted. Unbeknownst to the staff there, she does not support the Nazis, is a member of the resistance, and is actually carrying a Jewish baby.

Hilde is a young eighteen year old woman who is a staunch Nazi supporter. She is proud to be carrying the baby of a Nazi officer.

Irma is a nurse who applies for a nursing position and unknowingly becomes part of the Lebensborn program.

Jennifer Coburn’s meticulous research of documents and diaries as well as personal interviews, help to shed light on the dark practices of this sinister program. It is hard to put this book down! Throughout the book we can see how ordinary Germans were able to justify to themselves the events that were happening around them. This book would generate a lot of discussion for book clubs!

Thank you to NetGalley, author Jennifer Coburn, and Sourcebooks Landmark publishing for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of this interesting novel!

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This book was absolutely fascinating! Set during WWII, this story explores a part of history I had no idea even existed- the Lebensborn Society, maternity homes for German women.

The story follows three women, all with very different backgrounds and experiences, and how they end up at Heim Hochland.

I am fascinated by World War II and most of the historical fiction I read is centered around that time period but this book was so different from the others I’ve read! The writing was wonderful, alternating between the three women’s stories. I think I hoped for more “resolution” in the end but it was beautiful all the same.

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This is the story of three young women who become associated with the Lebensborn Society, a Nazi human breeding program where young women were encouraged to associate with German military men. The resulting babies were adopted out to Aryan families that wanted more children, or were unable to have children themselves.

This is true history, and the Lebensborn babies were adopted to live in a number of European nations.

The story by Jennifer Coburn is fiction, with one of the young women being a secret resistance member, one who has lost a child and seeks to rebuild her life, and another who wishes only to get pregnant by an important official with the resulting boost in status. I found the story interesting, with an accurate historic background, and recommend it.

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This novel is about three different women whose path cross at a Lebensborn Society program home. The Lebensborn program was a Nazi breeding program in the 1930’s to breed true Aryan babies that would be adopted by German families. Gundi and Hilde and up at such a home as pregnant teenagers. Irma is a nurse who works at the home taking care of the girls. I have read books about this program and was aware of it, looking forward to another historical novel on the subject. I loved the first half of the book, but felt it fell apart in the second half. Ultimately only Gundi’s story was followed, even her story left big gaps. What happened to Leo, to Gundi’s family? Hilde’s story was far fetched and not believable and Irma’s was just not followed. Ultimately only a three star book for me, disappointing.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed are completely my own.

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This is a historical novel about the Lebensborn Society in Nazi Germany. The Lebensborn Society had homes across Germany for pregnant unwed German women to have babies. They received the best food and were vetted to have perfect Aryan blood and the fathers were Aryan. The babies were then adopted by German couples.
The story follows three women. Gundi who is a beautiful German girl who part of the resistance. Irma who is a nurse in the home and Hilde who is a true believer in Germany and is having an upper rank officials baby. This story is told from the viewpoint of each character.
The Lebensborn Society did really exist in Germany. It is again something that I knew nothing about until this book. I am surprised everytime I learn something new in historical fiction. It is definitely a story that will have you thinking. What would make young women agree to this and think it was normal? Worth the read.

Thank you to #netgalley, #JenniferCoburn and #Sourcebooks for a copy of this book.

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Thank you to Net Galley for the free copy of “ Cradles of the Reich” by Jennifer Coburn in exchange for a honest review.This was an excellent descriptive novel that explored the Lebensborn program that the Nazis instituted during their reign of terror.They wanted to produce as many Aryan babies as possible to populateThe three main characters are Gundi, a perfect blond haired , blue eyed specimen of Aryan superiority who is sent to the Lebensborn to prepare for her baby’s arrival.Unknown to the nurses there , she is carrying her Jewish boyfriend’s baby and she is terrified of what will happen when she gives birth. Hilde is a fanatical Nazi who after getting pregnant with a married Nazi officer’s baby is sent to the birthing home and Irma is a nurse that lost everything in the First World War and goes to the Lebensborn home to make a difference and help the young mothers.Each character has many challenges that they face.
Very well written.

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When it comes to Historical Fiction, WWII stories are probably my most read. In 𝐂𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐑𝐞𝐢𝐜𝐡, Jennifer Coburn explores a hidden part of history that is seldom written about.

During WWII, the Nazis began and operated The Lebensborn Society. It was essentially a breeding project; so the Nazis could ensure their master race.

The story is told through the eyes of three women.
Gundi is a perfect Aryan girl but is secretly part of the resistance; in fact, the baby she carries is not even from a Nazi soldier. Hilde is a strong supporter of the cause and thrilled to be carrying an official’s baby. Then there is Irma, a nurse who has lost so much and longs to start a new life, but she can’t help but care for these young mothers.

Don’t be surprised if you are shocked by the atrocities you read in this well-written, well-researched book. How could people treat others with such hate and cruelty? The characters and the atmosphere will draw you in; you will become emotionally invested! This was a dark period in history, but it is a shining example of how women were courageous even amidst the heinous acts surrounding them.

**ℙ𝕝𝕖𝕒𝕤𝕖 𝕕𝕠𝕟’𝕥 𝕤𝕜𝕚𝕡 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝔸𝕦𝕥𝕙𝕠𝕣’𝕤 ℕ𝕠𝕥𝕖.

Thank you @suzyapprovedbooktours and @jennifercoburnbooks for a spot on tour and a gifted book.

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A great novel about the lives of three women that intertwine. A lot of historical ties! Definitely a read I could not put down. Portrays the daunting dehumanization of Hitlers attempt at a pure breed.

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I love reading historical fiction because I always learn so much from them. In Cradles of the Reich, I learned that during WWII, the Nazis were impregnating women considered “racially fit” to repopulate new Germany. Many of these women didn’t want to be part of this, but some were thrilled to be chosen to participate.

I enjoyed this book even with it’s hard subject matter. There are three different storylines in the novel, and they converge together. Gundi is young and pregnant, when she is forced into the Lebensborn Society maternity home. What they don’t know is that she is a part of the resistance and her baby’s father is Jewish. She is deemed one of the best physical mother’s and they want her child. Hilde is a young student who wants to work for the Reich and dreams of procreating with a Nazi Officer. This was the craziest storyline to read and I was fascinating with her efforts. Irma is a nurse in the maternity ward who just wants to help these young mothers and babies after the loss of her own child. Irma is sweet and a very maternal figure that the women turn to when they are terrified of what’s happening to them.

It’s hard to believe that this story is based on true events and that this wasn’t even that long ago! It seems like it should be part of the Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s tale universe. The book is well written and I loved the multiple POVs.

Thank you so much to @suzyapprovedbooktours, @bookmarked and @jennifercoburnbooks for my gifted copy.

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