Cradles of the Reich

A Novel

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app

1
To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add kindle@netgalley.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
2
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 11 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 24 Oct 2022
SOURCEBOOKS Landmark, Sourcebooks Landmark

Description

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

At Heim Hochland, a Nazi breeding home in Bavaria, three women's fates are irrevocably intertwined. Gundi is a pregnant university student from Berlin. An Aryan beauty, she's secretly a member of a resistance group. Hilde, only eighteen, is a true believer in the cause and is thrilled to carry a Nazi official's child. And Irma, a 44-year-old nurse, is desperate to build a new life for herself after personal devastation. All three have everything to lose.

Based on untold historical events, this novel brings us intimately inside the Lebensborn Society maternity homes that actually existed in several countries during World War II, where thousands of "racially fit" babies were bred and taken from their mothers to be raised as part of the new Germany. But it proves that in a dark period of history, the connections women forge can carry us through, even driving us to heroism we didn't know we had within us.

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

At Heim Hochland, a Nazi breeding home in Bavaria, three women's fates are irrevocably...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781728250748
PRICE $27.99 (USD)
PAGES 320

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (EPUB)
Download (EPUB)

Average rating from 418 members


Featured Reviews

Thank you Netgalley for the ARC! Wow this book was a fictionalized glimpse into an aspect of WWII that was chilling and that I knew nothing about and am intrigued to learn more after reading this well written book.

Was this review helpful?

Cradles of the Reich by Jennifer Coburn
Jennifer Coburn has exposed me to an atrocity in history of which I knew little. Before and during the Second World War, Germany established Lebensborn societies, homes for extraordinary German women of a certain Aryan pedigree who would be housed and nurtured with the hope of breeding strong, beautiful, “perfect” Germans. These homes would also accommodate children kidnapped from German-occupied countries because they looked exceptionally Aryan to be adopted and raised by German families.
Jennifer Coburn writes her story around three women who each experience Lebensborn in different roles. Gundi, unmarried and pregnant, is pressured to enter Lebensborn house because she is proportionally the “perfect “ German woman with perfect colouring and stature and body shape and exemplifies German motherhood. Gundi, however, is anything put the perfect Nazi and holds alliances and love elsewhere. Hildie desires to be a true “Hitler girl” and will do whatever it takes to bear a child of a Nazi officer. And Irma, a nurse who is attempting to do her job while trying unsuccessfully to notice atrocities taking place.
I read this novel from beginning to end on a travel day, and I was so absorbed in the story and characters it made all the flights and layovers I experienced fly by! This novel is a fascinating and heartbreaking novel about a time in history ( one of the many times ) where women are exploited for the “good of the country”. Be sure to add this to your Tbr list when it is published in October. Thank you to Netgalley and SourceBooks Landmark for the free advanced copy!

Was this review helpful?

Very good story. I enjoyed the different perspectives of all the different characters, however, I do hope the author writes a continuation to this story because I felt like their stories weren’t finished.

Was this review helpful?

A very good read and I will suggest for book club.
Ms. Coburn accurately and realistically depicted how young women ended up believing in procreating for the Reich (or not).
Three main characters meet in this home, none for the same reasons, none with the same opinions. Each one is under pressure from men and the Nazis. This will give the reader an eye opening look into the Lebensborn Society.
Highly recommended!

Was this review helpful?

--I have received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are purely my own and not influenced in any way.--

I've been in a sort of slump lately with historical fiction books and I've admittedly grown a bit tired of the same books with the same cover of a woman in old fashioned clothes in the distance with an old-timey plane flying overhead and roughly the same plot of "Nazis are bad". I was initially drawn to this book BECAUSE the cover wasn't the same generic "this book will take place during WWII" picture (though we still have the plane!), and the plot was about something actually DIFFERENT: the Lebensborn Program, which I have never heard of before.

We are transported to Germany in 1938-1939 and introduced to our main cast: Gundi, a young woman in the resistance, Hilde, a young, directionless woman who firmly-or at least mostly- believes in all the Reich's teachings, and Irma, a nurse of the lost generation who had equally lost herself. All three women have very unique personalities and voices and each one you actually find yourself sympathizing with, or at least understanding where they're coming from. Personally, Irma was my favorite because I loved watching her grow from a bitter woman who just goes along her life seemingly aimlessly to really finding who she has always been in the end. While I liked all of our main characters, I found Gundi to be the least interesting, but that was probably because I've seen the resistance fighter thing done so many times in past books and this one, though it did have a few different notes, was still fairly predictable in where it was going. That said, what this book does REALLY right is world building, and Jennifer Coburn did a great job with describing how ornate the house was while also nailing the sinister undertones with the "mothers-in-training".

I personally found this book to be a pretty refreshing read in a pretty oversaturated field of World War II historical fiction books. I actually learned about something I never heard of before, and all of our characters were memorable and unique. Though this book is a bit predictable at points, it definitely has widespread appeal but has just enough uncharted ground for veterans of historical fiction to get something out of as well.

Was this review helpful?

Absolutely unable to put down! I wish there were more books about the Lebensborn project, both fiction and nonfiction. Not only does this book portray an often-overlooked part of Nazi history, but it portrays the real history behind Maragret Atwood’s An Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments.

Was this review helpful?

This was a great historical fiction read. I was a little hesitant to read this one because WWII novels are a bit overdone, but this angle with the Nazi homes for expectant mothers was a storyline that I have not seen as much. My only complaint would have to be the character of Hilde (not because I disagree with her views). She was just overall annoying. She is the complete embodiment of a "pick me" girl.

Was this review helpful?

Cradles of the Reich by Jennifer Coburn is an excellent WWII-era historical fiction that takes us into the dark recesses of a lesser-known program implemented by the Nazis. Just fascinating.

This takes place within Germany, and the This book sheds light on a subject that I knew minimal about: the Lebensborn Society maternity homes and program. I knew vaguely of German “breeding” programs, but I did not know about this established program. The Nazi government established multiple sites within multiple countries, and the author presents the true location of Heim Hochland in Bavaria as the backdrop for this novel.

She does an excellent job weaving a tale among three different women in different mentalities, places in life, and beliefs. It was fascinating to read this story through the alternating views of Hilde, Irma, and Gunti. It was unique, addictive, gripping, and though sad, had a positive ending for the majority of the characters themselves.

I also appreciate the Author’s note at the end which gave us her own history, research, passion, family, and what was fact vs fiction.

Excellent.

5/5 stars

Thank you NG and Sourcebooks Landmark for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 10/11/22.

Was this review helpful?

I loved this book! I couldn’t it down. I thought it was interesting that not all of the main characters were likable. Gundi was a strong and sympathetic heroine. I enjoyed the arc of Irma’s story as she evolved to become a completely different person. I do wish that I had found out what happened to Hilde. Other than that, it was great.

Was this review helpful?

Historical fiction is one of my fave genre and this novel, Cradles of the Reich by Jennifer Coburn, didn’t disappoint. The author has humanized the characters’ quirky personalities and relationships; thus making the novel easy to read and follow. I know many would say this book is simply another historical fiction with similar content compared to others; however, the fact that the novel stayed within the detailed context of the characters instead of the situation which made this one different to other novels. It’s a must read!

Thank you Jennifer Coburn Netgalley SourceBooks for this gifted #ARCbook #ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Cradles Of The Reich
Today I finished the novel “Cradles Of The Reich,” by Jennifer Coburn. The novel is about a lesser known but dark topic of World War II Women in Germany would have sex with SS Officers to have children to populate Hitlers “master race” and once these babies are born they are never seen again. Lebensborn also kidnapped babies from mothers in occupied territories to be raised by German families. I recently did a Q&A with Jennifer Coburn about the novel which you can read through the link here https://booknotions.com/qa-with-jennifer-coburn/ . The novel comes out on October 11th I was lucky enough to get an early copy from Netgalley.

Pros
My favorite characters were Gundi and Irma. Gundi is secretly part of the resistance in Germany. Irma wants to keep her head down and start a new life, but suddenly starts to grow a conscience as the story goes on. Gundie’s story had me on edge. Gundi is carrying a dangerous secret; the father of her unborn baby is Jewish. Hilde was sadly an indoctrinated college student who believes in Hitlers cause. Part of me wanted to slap some sense into Hilde and the other part of me felt somewhat bad for her because you knew she was far too gone into believing the madness. I like how Jennifer wrote Hilde without excusing her actions.

Cons
There was nothing I disliked. I only wished it was longer I wanted an epilogue of what happened to the characters after the war.

Overall
Overall I enjoyed the novel very much. I hope more history and historical fiction novelists get on board and write about lesser known parts of history that need to be told. It becomes dangerous once we forget the past. When we forget the past we are doomed to repeat it.

Was this review helpful?

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

At Heim Hochland, a Nazi breeding home in Bavaria, three women's fates are irrevocably intertwined. Gundi is a pregnant university student from Berlin. An Aryan beauty, she's secretly a member of a resistance group. Hilde, only eighteen, is a true believer in the cause and is thrilled to carry a Nazi official's child. And Irma, a 44-year-old nurse, is desperate to build a new life for herself after personal devastation. All three have everything to lose.

Based on untold historical events, this novel brings us intimately inside the Lebensborn Society maternity homes that actually existed in several countries during World War II, where thousands of "racially fit" babies were bred and taken from their mothers to be raised as part of the new Germany. But it proves that in a dark period of history, the connections women forge can carry us through, even driving us to heroism we didn't know we had within us.

Review to come closer to my tour stop

Was this review helpful?

This book focuses on three very different women and how they came to be involved in the Lebensborn Society and their different outlooks upon it.
There is Gundi, involved in the resistance, pregnant by a Jewish man, but since Gundi is the perfect example of a pure Aryan, blond, blue eyed, she is forced against her will to Heim Hochland, a breeding home for good Aryan women. Gundi needs to find a way out before she gives birth and it is discovered her baby does not have an Aryan father.
Then there is Hilde a party fanatic who will go to any extremes to advance in the p[arty. Hilde becomes pregnant to a married high ranking Nazi and is sent tothe house to have her baby.
Last there is Irma, a world-weary WWI nurse who comes to work at the house looking for a new start in life but Irma quickly sees the dark side of the program, she finds her true calling helping the girls in the house.
This book is wonderfully researched and sheds light on another little known plan of Hitler
s regime. The amount of secret plans that the Nazis had and were kept from the general population is staggering. They had so much going on that people didn't know of but were expected to blindly follow and they did is unbelievable. This story is another heart-wrenching account as to the lengths Hitler was willing to go to obtain his master race.
iI recommend this for all historical fiction fans, the women's stories are touching and enlightening along with educating us about more cover Nazi atrocities.
Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark and Net Galley for the free ARC, I am leaving my honest review in return.

Was this review helpful?

Lebensborn, the "fount of life"was an "SS initiated, state-supported, registered association in Nazi Germany with the goal or raising the birth rate of Aryan children of people classified as 'racially pure' and 'healthy' based on the Nazi racial hygiene and health ideology." In an attempt to cultivate and increase the master pure race, Himmler had "pure" Aryan girls become sex objects to SS officers to create more children, provided a home for Aryan unwed pregnant women, and captured German children from nearby countries for adoption purposes. If that doesn't whet your appetite for learning.....?
Based on these historical facts, Coburn has created a story that involved 3 different woman who might have succumbed to three different directions as they reacted to the increasing Nazi rhetoric and the advent of Kristallnacht. One "poster child" of Aryan features actually worked for the resistance and was pregnant with her Jewish lover's child. Another was a fierce loyalist to the cause whose goal was to get pregnant by a high ranking officer and another was a nurse whose feelings undergo a metamorphosis as she become sympathetic to the German resistance to Hitler's grand plan. Told in alternating voices, this heartbreaking and compelling story creates characters that are well defined and believable. Clearly the author has deeply researched the background information and it shows on every page. Intelligent, disconcerting, and moving, it is a book that fans of historical fiction should run to. It is a salad of all the best that historical fiction has to offer.

Was this review helpful?

“Cradles of the Reich” by Jennifer Coburn is an amazing historical novel, I could not put it down! This book follows three German women in Nazi Germany who live at Lesborne home; a place where perfect German babies are bred. I loved the different perspectives that were given for each character and admire all of the research that went into writing this book. Thank you NetGalley and author for this ARC!

Was this review helpful?

Despite how many historical fiction books there are out there focused on World War II, every now and again you find one with a slightly different focus. This book is about the Lebensborn Society, which were maternity home set up by the Nazi regime. These were not only maternity homes for unwed German women but also a breeding program to support the German mindset for racial purity. While this is something I have heard of before, it was interesting to see how the author could weave the story of three very different German women concerning their time at the maternity home. This book very quickly drew me in and I just didn't want to put it down because I wanted to know the outcome for these three women. So please don't pass this one by as just another World War II book!

Was this review helpful?

When author Jennifer Coburn reached out to me in March with the opportunity to read her historical fiction novel Cradles of the Reich I was immediately intrigued. It sat on my kindle for a while, but when I started reading it, I could not stop!

The story is told from the viewpoint of three German women during WWII. Gundi is a beautiful young woman who physically is the Nazi ideal, but works secretly in the resistance to fight Jewish persecution. Hilde seeks to find power for herself and is passionate about the Reich cause. Lastly we have Irma, who is a middle aged nurse who finds herself lost in her life and is somewhat ambivalent about what is happening to start. The three women collide when both Gundi and Hilde become pregnant and unwed and Irma moves to start a new life working at the Heim Hochland, which is a Lebensborn Society maternity home or “breeding home” run by the Nazis to produce a new generation of perfect Aryan babies. Gundi is sent against her will, while Hilde is more than happy to go after intentionally becoming pregnant by a high ranking Nazi official. However, what lays in store once they reach the home is now what any of the women expect. They will have to decide what they believe in, who to trust, and what future they want for themselves and the children that come from the home.

I had not previously heard about the Lebensborn Society homes and found myself reading with morbid fascination. The whole concept reminded me of the fictional “Handmaid’s Tale”, which made the fact that this was reality all the more horrifying. Each character was so well written and represented a different perspective. Gundi was easiest to understand because she made an early decision to fight against the wrong. I also could relate to Irma who didn’t necessarily agree with what was happening, but took some time to find her own strength and path. Hilde was certainly the most difficult character to understand and relate to given her vigor and dedication to the Nazi’s. However, the inclusion of all perspectives gave a refreshing lens to the story and added to the historical accuracy. Lastly, the author’s note details all the research completed and more information about the factual parts of the story. Through the note and the story, I learned some completely new about this period in history.

Cradles of the Reich publishes in October 2022. I highly recommend to everyone, especially fans of historical fiction. This one is excellent!

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an electronic ARC of this book. I found this a powerful and emotional read. I could not put it down once I started. This book had several multifaceted main characters whose traits deepened as the plot progressed. Grundi is a university student who is minimally aware of the changes to the lives of 5he Jewish people as those changes do not directly affect her. One day though, a chance encounter with a Jewish man named Leo will change her life forever. As their relationship deepens, she becomes pregnant and because of her perfect physical attributes as determined by an examining doctor from the government, she is ordered to report to a German-sponsored hone for unwed mothers. While there, she discovers the home is more than a safe haven, and it is in fact a breeding ground for future children of the Reich. Lying about her baby’s father’s ethnicity, Grundi fears that if the baby has the physical features of a Jewish person rather than her Aryan ones, she and the baby will be in great danger. A second character is Hilde, who will do anything to have a baby for the Reich so she can gain affection and attention, even if it means compromising her integrity and morals. And finally, there is Irma, a nurse whose personal life is in shambles due to a poor relationship decision and who accepts the offer to work at the home because she has nothing left for her where she came from. While working there, she discovers the home’s sordid secrets and makes a personal decision that could bring her personal redemption, but cost her her very life. The author has a great historical note and reading guide at the end which enhances the understanding of this book. My only suggestion would be to have an epilogue added as I was left with many lingering questions as to what happened to the characters in the future. I highly recommend this book!

Was this review helpful?

Three women become part of the real life Nazi breeding home, Heim Hochland. Gundi is the perfect Aryan mother to be, except she is secretly part of the resistance. Hilde is a true believer and proud to be carrying the child of a married SS officer. Forty-four year old nurse, Irma, takes a position to restart her life after disappointment.

A World War 2 story has to be pretty unique for me to read it these days, and this one was. I loved the three different women and their very different experiences. I didn’t find Irma’s quite as interesting but I liked her story’s ending. Speaking of endings, I liked how the ending was sad but also hopeful, for all three women. There were a few questions I wished were answered, but I think the non answers are reminiscent of the times and fit well.

“The Nazis were stealing from the Jews; they were robbing German girls of their innocence. She wasn’t even able to hide behind the word they; she was part of it.”

Cradles of the Reich comes out 10/11.

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: