Cover Image: Cradles of the Reich

Cradles of the Reich

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This is a historical novel about a program called The Lebansborn Society, which was basically a Nazi breeding program that was trying to bring more racial and socially inept children. It was a secret society to try to form a master race born from the elite.
The story follows three women, Gundi, a young resistance fighter, Hilde, impregnated by a non-caring but high ranking official, and a nurse, Irma, who was determined to do a good thing even though she worked within a horrible society. The chilling secrets kept me wanting to learn more. The one thing I'm wishing is that the story didn't end on such an unsaid note. Maybe there'll be a second book?
Thank you to Netgalley, Sourcebooks Landmark, and Jennifer Coburn for allowing me this arc ebook version in exchange for an honest review.

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This is an important book of historical fiction. It seems somehow wrong to say I enjoyed it when the topic is so painful, but I will say it is a great book. I recommend it to everyone.

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Cradles of the Reich adds a largely unexplored topic to the list of WWII historical fiction titles. Coburn takes a deep dive into the Lebensborn Society, a horrific eugenics-based breeding program.
The tales unfold through the voices of three women, one devoted to Nazi ideology, one a nurse at the Lebensborn Society home, and the third an unwilling resident. I liked this approach, but the characters needed to be more developed. Each was so extreme in their characterization with little to no complexity or internal conflict. Irma was the best-developed of the three. Hilda was almost cartoonish in her behavior and made a melodramatic villain. There were few surprises in the plot, and the ending was as expected, except I didn't feel any closure with Hilda.

I liked that the stories unfolded linearly, and the author did not use a dual timeline crutch to pad the narrative (can you tell I'm tired of dual timeline historical fiction tropes?).

I recommend this book to fans of WWII historical fiction as it tells a new story. I hope the author continues to write historical fiction because I expect she will get better and better.

Thanks to NetGalley for an electronic ARC in exchange for a review.

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Cradles of the Reich follows the story of three women entangled in the Lebensborn society maternity homes. Two are expectant mothers, one there by choice and the other not, and the other a nurse in charge of their care. This story albeit a work of fiction really is based in true events that happened and @jennifercoburnbooks did a really great job showcasing the different mindsets. I could not stand one of the expectant mothers- she drank too much of the koolaid but the sad part is her mindset was part of the overwhelming majority. I felt so bad for the other expectant mother and everything she went through and I think the nurse’s change of perspective probably happened to some but did they ever do anything about it. If you want to read a really thought provoking story then pick up Cradles of the Reich.

Thank you @jennifercoburnbooks @sourcebooks and @netgalley for this gifted copy in exchange for my honest feedback.

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Cradles of the Reich is an excellent read for lovers of historical fiction. Jennifer Coburn does a wonderful job of drawing you into the story of thre young women who are sent to Lebensborn a German breeding program during World War II. The three women who all arrive for different reasons begin to rely on each other. I love it when a book teaches me something I did not know about and Cradles of the Reich did just that.

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I did not finish this book. I jumped around too much and I was confused at who was who and what was going on.

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Cradles of the Reich was rather underwhelming. It had some very interesting historical tidbits, but it lacked a certain emotional depth and the characters felt very one-dimensional.

Set during the height of World War Two, Cradles of the Reich introduces readers to the horrors of Nazi birther homes, where young "racially pure" German girls are forced to have children to enhance the Nazi's vision of a "perfect Aryan society".

The detailed historical setting was definitely the highlight of the book; it is evident that Jennifer Coburn put in an extraordinary amount of research into all the historical aspects of the story. It was horrifying to learn about these programs and realize how far the Nazis were willing to go to create a "racially pure" society.

The story is told from three different perspectives: two expectant young mothers in the program, one pro-Nazi and the other a secret member of the German resistance, and one of he program's nurses. Sadly each of these perspectives felt rather one-dimensional and simplistic. There wasn't much depth or complexity to any of the characters.

About 2/3 of the story is told from the perspective of Gundi, the anti-Nazi expectant mother. Because she is such a strong focus of the novel, the other two perspectives felt incredibly unnecessary. Eliminating the other two points of view and writing entirely from Gundi's perspective would have helped make the novel much more focused and impactful.

While the historical components of this novel were satisfying and well-researched, the actual story itself was a bit flat and disappointing. It lacked the emotional punch that many other World War Two books have.

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I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy of this book from Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley.
It started off great. I flew through the first third. I loved the character development and background of Gundi and Irma. Although I wasn’t a fan of Hilde from the beginning, I understood the need for a character that wasn’t meant to be liked to give a different view of the experience. The middle of the book lost its luster for me, and prevented me from rating it higher than 3 stars. I just didn’t find the girls’ time at Heim Hochland interesting. It probably didn’t help that I despised the whole concept of the Lebensborn Society and the way the girls and babies were treated. And the fact that they were basically living in a whore house. The last third of the book brought me back to my original thinking and I was quickly able to finish it.
As much as I disliked the premise of the Nazi mentality, I appreciated the truth that was involved in writing this story.

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This book really just took me for a ride. I loved the build up, the character development, and the writing though the story itself was incredible tough to read. I would definitely read more from this author!

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I just couldn't get into this book. I had a lot of trouble keeping track of all of the characters and wanted it to move faster. I didn't finish it but will try again when the audiobook comes out. Giving 3 stars for now until I've had a chance to finish it.

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Powerful!! I have read so many WW2 novels and yet I will never grow numb to the atrocities I read about. This book opened my eyes to the the Nazi breeding program and is an intimate look into the Lebensborn Society maternity homes. Where babies were vetted and women were analyzed to determine who was “racially fit.” Women were kept in these homes and encouraged to have sexual relations with German soldiers in an effort to be “good citizens.” And they kidnapped Aryan infants from Nazi occupied territory and German families adopted them.

This story follows three very different women — a woman the Reich deems “pure Aryan” but she is also secretly a member of the resistance, a nurse uneasy with what is transpiring, and a German woman willing to do anything to move up in rank. Their lives intersect in Lebensborn.

I did not want to put this book down! if there were more free hours in my day I probably would have finished in one day. So much of this story was disturbing but also illuminating.

It felt like were so many unknowns at the end so I am really hoping there is a sequel!

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**Excerpt from part of a review written for The Collinwood Chronicle and published online (some of it, in print) September 2022

I turned to Cradles of the Reich by Jennifer Coburn, to bring to this review a serious historical book (still fictional), something engaging worth the trouble to seek and find (but not destroy).
This author takes us to Nazi Germany. Here we find out information we may never have been privy to, in our former education, specifically a part of Henrich Heimmlers plan for the master race, if it had survived. And, while the story is fiction, there are realities shared in the book that are true, that played out in real life with real people from the past.

Hitler’s plan for eugenics and that, there were places for pregnant women to go and have their children which were not as “perfect” as the Nazi’s portrayal of what was (going on there). If you are not familiar with the word eugenics it is defined by the Oxford language dictionary as the study of how to arrange the reproduction within a human population to arrange the occurrence of heritable characteristics regarded as desirable. It was a discredited study after the Nazis but here, in America, we woman (if poor or thought “loose”/easy) also suffered through this in the early 1900’s.

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This was very informative and shocking to read as much as I've read about the breeding program during the nazi era, this was more detail than could ever imagine and I was in shock to find most of the things that I've learned in this story.

Three different stories that ended in the same place or the same destination, everything for a pure race that's the scariest part of this story, the woman, the mother didn't mother all they want was a pure-blooded son for an ignorant agenda that still happening in some way or another.

Hilde's story was the spoiled one who thought was better than anyone around her because she was married to the enemy to the cold-blooded Nazi officer and that gave her certain power but still naive for her 18 years old age.

Gaudy has been working on a secret mission undercover for the resistance, she is the main model or the topical model, Aryan people or the nazis are looking for to create this so-called poured blooded race

Finally the story of Irma, she was in charge of the maternity area, she wasn't really keen on what they were doing in this place, and she was constantly conflicted to see how these women didn't feel anything or do anything to stop them from taking their babies.

Cradles of the Reich wasn't an easy read I really felt sad and anguished at all times, to read how many women were doing this and also were taking with lies and other methods to make them give their babies away like if they were a piece of meat in the supermarket.

A very captivating story about three women in Himmler’s Lebensborn program, that slowly intertwines and connects with each other as they participate and see the horror that was happening in there only for the full conviction or ideology of giving birth to pure-blooded Aryan children.

Thank you NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the advanced copy of Cradles of the Reich in exchange for an honest review

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Compelling story of women in a home for expectant and "training mothers" in Nazi Germany. It was interesting to learn about this time period in Germany history, and the horrifying attempt to produce "perfect" children.

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This is biographical fiction dealing with Heim Hochland, a breeding facility for the Nazis. Their goal, to produce Aryan babies. This is the story of three women and the intertwining of their lives at the facility. While this is well written, it is still a dark read due to the subject matter. This is an aspect of the Holocaust and World War II that isn't seen as often, so if the title grabs you, odds are you will like the book

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Set against the backdrop of Germany at the start of WWII Cradles Of The Reich is the story of Gundi, Hilde and Irma and their dealings within the luxurious Nazi breeding home at Heim Hochland.
Gundi is a pregnant student who happens to be the perfect Aryan specimen. Thinking that the father of the child is of equally good Aryan breeding stock she is sent to Heim Hochland to receive the best of care. She will become the face of perfect German motherhood and must be nurtured. However, unknown to the authorities, Gundi is in the resistance and her child might not be the perfect Aryan baby that everyone expects it to be.
Hilde is a true believer and when a high ranking German officer takes an interest in her, she is determined to become pregnant by him and bear a child of the Reich. The Officer arranges for her to go to Heim Hochland and Hilde wastes no time in setting herself up as Queen Bee.
Irma is a nurse who arrives at Heim Hochland after she has suffered personal heartache and is looking to start over.
The author does an amazing job at weaving the three separate stories together, using both present and past tense we get to know all of the characters intimately.
Although a work of fiction, the Lebensborn project was real which makes the book quite harrowing in places. That said it is ultimately a book of courage, hope and heroism and I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes the genre.
Many thanks to the author, publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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As someone who reads a lot of WWII fiction, many of the books start to seem the same to me. But I hadn’t heard about the Lebensborn Society, where expectant, unmarried mothers who demonstrated the ideal racial characteristics were taken to be pampered until they had their babies, so they could be adopted by Nazi officers. That is the story of this book:

(link to book)

Told in the now typical three viewpoints, a picture emerges of these homes for women where the Nazi’s attempted to create their ideal race in several ways. Although its layout was familiar the information provided was new to me, so I do recommend this read for people who read in this genre.

(quote from author's notes)

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You can tell that this book was well researched and that she really poured her passion into this story. The emotions and journey you go on in this story is truly deep.

This is a great book for the historical fiction fans and one that will definitely keep you turning the pages. If you want something that will also get you to research more history after than this is for you!

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"Biology made them Aryan, but family makes Germany".
.Helm Hochland, a Nazi breeding farm where women were sent to create the perfect child and this baby was not permitted to be raised by the birth mother, instead the child was adopted and raised in order to populate a Germany that had a loss of men during the Great War. " Bred through Lebensborn society, where SS officers impregnated 'racially valuable' young women, and according to Holocaust museum, the theories of Nazi racial ideology and eugenics. To be included, the persons and their ancestors must not have any sort of physical and mental disability.
It just seems so unnatural for a women to hand over their newborn child. I have a hard time believing that the women allowed themselves to be a human incubator, I assume TBE women had Nazi propaganda pumped into them, which helped must have convinced them that the children were "The face of the new Germany".
The perspective parents remained me of browsing for a puppy, " Do you have any boy-girl twins?" Bred through Lebensborn society, were SS officers impregnated "racially valuable" young women.
The novel followed the journey three women, Hindu was a University student that was already pregnant and considered an Aryan beauty. Holds could not find her place in her society and was a young eighteen year-old Irma Binz lived in Frau Haarmacher's house since her mother passed away, she was the oldest of the trio at 44 year-old and works as a nurse.
Several years ago, I read a dystopian novel written by Margaret Atwood called, The Handmaid's Tale and this novel was similar to this novel. Moreover. Hitler created this same dystopia written in many of this type on novel, perhaps he was a poster child for the genre,
I engaged with the character Gundi, she was an incredibly brave woman and she did not buy into the propaganda and. I could not look up from the novel l until I could come to her conclusion. At times this book got heavy and I needed to take a break. I suggested reading another book to have a palate cleanser. I enjoy reading historical fiction that blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction., at times the novel was more non-fiction and I leaned much from the book.
Thank you Jennifer Coburn, Sourcebooks Landmark, and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this novel in return of writing an honest review.

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As a part of the Nazi plan during WWII, this maternity home scheme was new to me. The goal to create a perfect German race by choosing the ideal Arian girls to bear the babies of high ranking Nazi officers and give them up for adoption—multiple times—seems insane. This historical novel follows 3 women as they deal with the expectations of the German government, the reality of what’s happening in their country, and their evolving beliefs. The descriptions feel true to the times as do the characters. This is another important part of that time period that needs to be remembered and not repeated.

Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the ARC to read and review.

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