Member Reviews

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.

Was this review helpful?

It’s not very often that a book will completely grab me at chapter one. I’m a tough cookie to please, so it takes a lot to impress me! Ha! The synopsis of Cradles of the Reich by Jennifer Coburn made my jaw drop. A Nazi breeding program to create a so-called master race? Say what? Is this for real? I’ve read a lot of historical fiction in my life, but nothing like this. I was 100% invested by the end of the first chapter. The storyline grabbed me immediately. This is clearly a historical fiction novel, but it didn’t necessarily read like one the entire time. There’s something about Jennifer Coburn’s writing that seems so hip and current. It felt like I was reading contemporary fiction quite often. I love historical fiction, but must admit that the writing can get a little stiff and stale at times. I didn’t get those vibes at all with this novel, and my gosh, I liked it! It was so refreshing. Not only does this novel have a unique and fantastic plot, it also has a wonderful cast of characters. Some are more likable than others, but I formed a connection to them all, and felt excited to learn more about each of them as the chapters jumped from one character to the next. Cradles of the Reich will appeal to a lot of readers, not just historical fiction junkies. Grab a copy on October 11th! It gets 4.5/5 stars from me!

Was this review helpful?

I was not familiar with Jennifer Coburn, but requested to read “Cradles of the Reich” as I was hooked by the premise. I have read about the Lebensborn program or the Nazi breeding program created to birth pure blooded Aryan children, but this novel is the first piece of fiction that brings such heinous events to life.

The novel is narrated through the point of view of three very different German women who are connected to the Lebensborn program in poignantly different ways. Hence, the reader views these compelling moments through their perspectives. Coburn does more than teach us a history lesson but connects us to these women and their experiences. I read a lot of WWII fiction, but this is a novel that will stay with me for a very long time.

My thanks to the author, the publisher, and Net Galley for the privilege of reviewing this book.

Was this review helpful?

Engrossing novel about an aspect of WWII that I knew little about. The Nazi program, Lebensborn not only exploits unwed mothers, but also treats many young women as prostitutes. This story focuses on three different women involved in this program. There is an evolution in understanding for two of the women, where they question the German policies. Well written, super interesting and left me wanting to read more about this program.

Was this review helpful?

I recently have heard readers say that they are growing tired of WWII stories. They feel like the genre has been overused. This is a book for lovers of that history and others who think they have read it all. The Lebensborn Nazi program is not one that has been widely told. It was a secret program, and the Nazis destroyed all records of it at the ending of the war. The author did remarkable research to out together the story of three characters involved with program for different reasons. I recommend this novel lovers of historical fiction who like the emphasis on history. I took away one star, because I felt one character's story was left hanging.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. I was instantly intrigued by the title and the topic of this book. As you begin reading, you are instantly drawn into the story. I really enjoyed reading the different points of view in the story. This kept me interested by wondering how the three women’s paths would cross. The only suggestion I would have is to have a glossary or explain in the text what the Hebrew words and phrases meant. The German words could be understood by context. The ending left me wanting more! I really wanted to know what happened to the women after they made their choices at the end of the story. I would highly recommend this book!

Was this review helpful?

Cradles of the Reich
By: Jennifer Coburn
Review Score: 4 Stars

Five Key Feels

-This book was intense right from the start.

-I love the different perspectives of the women during Nazi Germany.

-This book gave a really interesting look into the “Lebensborn” plan of Nazi Germany.

-There were so many good twists in this book!

-I would have loved a little bit more about how each story turned out.


Cradles of the Reich was kindly provided as an ARC by Netgalley and Sourcebook Landmark. Thank you for allowing me to read this wonderful book!

Release Date: 10/11/22

Cradles of the Reich was a fascinating book about the Lebensborn plan. Basically, a plan by the Nazis to breed babies that lived up to the standards of the Aryan race.

Coburn did such an amazing job of showing all of the different perspectives including people who thought they were doing what was right (no matter how misguided).

This was such a good book. One of my favorite historical fiction books I have read this year. I definitely recommend checking Cradles of the Reich out!

#bookstagram #books #readingnow #boogiereadsbooks #fivekeyfeels #audiobooks #audiobook #historicalfiction #arcreview #netgalley #sourcebooklandmark #cradlesofthereich #jennifercoburn

Was this review helpful?

Cradles of the Reich takes you on the journey of three women and their individual experiences with the Nazi Germany Lebensborn program. What really set this book apart from others is that the author focuses solely on the Lebensborn Program. A lot of other authors will mention this or touch briefly on it but the entire book is about this and I think it is very important due to the secrecy of the program in history. This novel is historically accurate and you can tell the author did her due diligence when it comes to research, which really amplified the story and helped bring it to life! This book kept me up late three nights in a row because I was so engrossed in the story!

The main characters: Gundi, Irma and Hilde are very much different from one another but the author does a wonderful job at intertwining their stories and time at Heim Hochland, one of the more famous Lebensborn locations. I always say that if an author is making you really fall in love or hate a character, than they are doing an extraordinary job with their writing and the author certainly will make readers fall in love with Gundi and strongly dislike Hilde. Gundi is strong, brave, courageous, selfless and dedicated to her cause. Despite the frustrations with Hilde's demeanor and values, or lack thereof, I think Hilde's character is important because it is a great example of what happened when a child grew up during the Third Reich and the repercussions of being brainwashed by their insane ideologies.

if I could change anything about the book, I would have liked to have closure on Hilde's character and also Irma's character. There is sort of an open ending where the reader is left wandering what their fates were? It would possibly make a great sequel to this book and I would definitely read it!

Was this review helpful?

I really love this book! Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. I knew next to nothing about the German home for mothers. I found the story fascinating. One of the best World War II historical fiction books I have read in a long time!!!

Was this review helpful?

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Set during WWII this book is done for the perspective of 3 women, with no combat/fighting included which I really enjoyed. Each of the women have their own opinions of the Reich but those opinions arent important...because well their women and all they should be doing is birthing perfect children, or caring for the women who are birthing the perfect children.

All in all, a very enjoyable book but I found the ending a bit disappointing/abrupt. A bit more about what happened to the home, or the women (other than Gundi and Irma) would have been appreciated.

Was this review helpful?

3.75 stars.
This book follows the story of 3 women in Nazi Germany: Hilde, who wants impress and be recognized by the Nazis. Irma, who begins to question her job as a nurse at the Lebensborn facility. & Gundi, who is secretly a member of a resistance group and pregnant by a Jewish guy.

I actually learned quite a bit from this book. While I knew about Hitler wanting to create the “perfect race”, I had never heard about the Lebensborn project where they were basically kidnapping children. I really appreciate all the research the author put into this.

Was this review helpful?

This is a compelling story about the maternity homes established by the Nazis. The story was good, hard to put down, but I felt there were aspects left unfinished. We didn’t find out the end of the stories of a couple of characters. Maybe the author will write a follow up and continue the story. Thank you to net galley for an advanced readers copy.

Was this review helpful?

Since I know some things about Lebensborn, I had high hopes, unfortunately, they were not met.
The author's notification that the 'commonly' used German words, or those found in the US Merriam-Webster Dictionary are not italicized nor capitalized' triggered some annoyance.
The language problem arises especially in the first part of the book - I get the impression that the author has included German words, albeit being unaware of syntax and/or usage/ meaning;
For example, prepositions are carelessly omitted or added where not necessary.

You cannot say 'in Gymnasium' - In German mann geht aufs/ins Gymnasium und macht Abitur/Hochschulreife
It's not for the Volk, but for das Volk.
Führer needs capitalized, no matter how many times it's used in a text; it's a proper noun.
I found it odd to mention the school system in German-speaking countries without any notes.
Aryan needs to be capitalized.
das Frauengold (articles are not capitalized)

The first part of this book is in need of editing, esp. the use of German.
No footnotes, or translation of the Yiddish/Hebrew used, so I skipped that.
By adding a glossary, the author could have given additional information on say Fritz Lang, Tiergartenstraße 4 (hence the name T-4), Gertrud Scholz-Klink, BDM, the Lebensborn Society, Berlin Denkmal Fasanenstraße, the Edelweiss Pirates, et&, et&.
I realize the author opted for a fictional story, but I feel there was more to be had had she included this.

The story is set on the eve of the outbreak of WWII - the timeline is a bit sloppy - because later in Lebensborn Steinhöring there is talk about 'Aryan' children from Poland that will be joining the other children in Steinhöring, waiting for adoption/'Germanization' of these 'orphans.' (most children were not orphaned, but, in fact, kidnapped from their parents - and this would most likely have taken place after September 1939); the war breaks out only when Gundi escapes with her 'non-Aryan' baby to Switzerland at a later point.

Since the atmosphere of that time is difficult to describe, and the fact there are so many factors that played a role, imho it is why it is of the utmost importance to approach these times with the utmost caution and rationality:
I got the feeling some images were ridiculed (the only germans in this book are
SS men with their pants down, panting and moaning 'on all fours', old men compared with turkeys in brothels, or rather unintelligent youngsters ), while women are portrayed as women who merely spread their legs as 'whores/Huren.' -

Dachau is regularly mentioned in relation to Lebensborn, but I find it strange that the author chooses not to mention the link between Dachau and Lebensborn. (candlesticks for the babies).

The first bit focuses on how the three end up in Steinhöring, and stops rather abruptly when one of them manages to escape to Switzerland.
The story lacks depth, the story almost resembled that of three young women who end up pregnant and having to deal with that. I found the first part boring, the second part is better, but ends rather abruptly. The story would have gained momentum if more background information was given.

2.5-3 star for me.
I would like to thank Netgalley for this arc. I leave my review voluntarily.

Was this review helpful?

Truly an exceptional book. This story of three German women during the start of WWII caught me from the first pages. It's a perspective I haven't read before and have often wondered about. How did everyday people stand aside for such atrocities? It's extremely poignant given the current state of the world. I was incredibly sad when the book came to an end and would have happily read another 300 pages. You can't go wrong with this one.

I was provided an advanced copy of this work in exchange for an honest review. The opinions reflected are my own.

Was this review helpful?

I received a free e-arc of this book through Netgalley.
This is about having babies for Hitler as part of the Lebensborn Society program in Germany during WWII. Pregnant women were sent there to be given the best of food and training in motherhood and to either give their babies up for adoption to good German families or to marry their German soldier boyfriends. Teenagers/young women were also basically prostitutes for the German officers and if they were impregnanted, then so much the better to create more babies for Germany. It sounds like something out of science fiction, but has been documented that it did happen. This story centers on some of the women and a nurse who work there and their varying degrees of cooperation with the program. It was an interesting and scary read at times.

Was this review helpful?

I was intrigued with this book because it had a mention by Susan Meissner, whose books I love. I was not disappointed by this book. I won't rehash the plot because so many others have. Although this is historical fiction, it covers very difficult subject matter, but it does so with care. It is heartbreaking at times, but it is also ultimately triumphant and uplifting. I feel that it is important to learn about and understand the happenings during this period in history and to not look away. This book allows you to do that while participating in a great ride by a wonderful storyteller. I'd definitely read something else by this author. And I highly recommend this one.

Was this review helpful?

The Nazi breeding program seems to be one of those things that people have inklings about but sounds too dystopian to entertain the thought too much. Kudos to Jennifer Coburn for tackling this lesser-spoken time in history. Not only does she illustrate victims, but also those who embraced the program.

The book follows Gundi, Irma, and Hilde, three women with vastly different stories that all intertwine in Heim Hochland. The three have different roles and backgrounds: Hilde is there to produce Aryan children, specifically the child of a Nazi officer, Gundi is carrying a Jewish man's baby and can only pray the child will inherit her Aryan features rather than his Jewish looks, and Irma is a nurse at Heim Hochland seeing to the needs of the mothers to be.

Of the three, I liked Gundi's story the best and found it to be the most fleshed out with her being both part of the Resistance as well as a resident of the maternity home. Her and Irma's relationship was so sweet. That being said, I enjoyed Irma's POV immensely as well and her journey as she comes to learn more about the true reason for her work at the maternity home. As for Hilde, her story is both difficult and interesting to read. Difficult because it's uncomfortable being placed in the mindset of someone who wants to contribute to the Nazi party, especially in such a way as being a breeder. Interesting because it's not a perspective you'll often see visited nowadays. I can't imagine how difficult it would be as a writer to take on a character like this.

Hilde's storyline sort of drops off toward the end, making Gundi and Irma the ultimate protagonists of the book. Their stories were solid enough that Hilde was a bit of a third wheel, but it did add something having that not-so-pleasant POV. It added a layer of harsh reality to the situation. There were women willing to compromise themselves for the sake of producing the 'perfect' child and people willing to bring harm to those who didn't fit the bill.

There's a lot going on in the book, but there's a lot to cover and a lot of intricacies that make up the bigger picture. I don't know a whole lot about this program, but it appears to be thoroughly researched which I always appreciate. I'm curious to look more into the subject now.

A huge thanks to the author for inviting me to read the ARC through NetGalley! I plan on buying a physical copy once the book is released.

Was this review helpful?

I couldn’t put this book down. I loved the multiple POV’s and how it was someone from each side of the cause. Gundi was my favorite pov and I didn’t really care for Hilde but it’s always interesting to see how someone supported Hilters decisions. This is a side of the war that I’ve never read about before and It was shocking to see what Germany wanted the German girls do for the country. I do wish we got a little more closure for Hildes pov at the end and while I was satisfied with the other two pov endings, but I would love to follow them even further.

Thank you @suzyapprovedbooktours @jennifercoburnbooks @netgalley for the gifted copy.

Was this review helpful?

I love a powerful historical fiction story set during World War II and this one is exactly that. The story follows three main characters Gundi, who has become pregnant and while she is the perfect Aryan beauty, she is involved with a resistance group; Hilde who wants nothing more than to become a wife and perfect member of the Reich and a nurse, Irma. All three find their lives intertwined at the Nazi breeding program Heim Hochland.

First, I will say I had no idea this even happened. It was shocking to read and learn about. Second, Coburn tackles the subject with such beautiful prose but doesn't hold back either. There are certainly times it is difficult to read, knowing that this all went on in our not-so-distant history.

If you're a fan of historical fiction, especially set in World War II, this is not one to miss.

Thank you Sourcebooks, Suzy Approved Book Tours, and Jennifer Coburn for the gifted eARC and physical copy!

Was this review helpful?

this was a chilling idea for a WW2 novel, and I think it was a well written work. It's scary to think about if this actually happened, the plot was so well done. I really felt for the characters and what they were going through. It was really sad to see the changes that were happening to the characters and I really felt for the women in this novel. Jennifer Coburn has a wonderful writing style and it works so well for the time-period.

"Irma wanted to run outside and hug Gisela. She wanted to scold her parents for their harsh words and let Gisela know that she was loved. At the very least, she wanted to get her address so they could exchange letters. Instead, Irma stood motionless, as if she were bolted to the ground. Where was the old Irma who threw glasses across the room and demanded explanations? Where was the woman who could walk away from a relationship without a glance back?"

Was this review helpful?