Year of production: 2003
Horst Martin Widdershoven, a 60 year-old
Dutchman, is shocked as he stands in front of the
house where he was born in the Lower Austrian
town of Pernitz, seeing for the first time the place
where he was delivered in 1942, as part of an
elite of "pure German blood".
The distinguished five-story building with
balconies and a view of the Schneeberg is
nestled gently in a park and exudes nobility.
Widdershoven fights off tears and takes his
partner Simon, who has accompanied him to
Austria, into his arms.
Here in Pernitz is where his lifelong odyssey in
search of his family began. Like 20,000 other
Lebensborn children throughout Europe, he did
not belong to his mother but rather to the
"Association for the Improvement of the Nordic
Race." ("Verein zur Verbesserung der nordischen
A family torn apart, three different surnames, two
nationalities and an involuntary life in several
countries have affected Widdershoven. His story
also serves as an example of how long after the
end of Nazi rule, governments took responsibility
for the mistakes of the Lebensborn and staked a
"claim" for him as a citizen.
In the documentary, Bete Thalberg uses the
fate of Horst Martin Widderhoven to retell the
unbelievable history of the governmental
appropriation of human life through the
SS-program Lebensborn. A chapter often excluded
from the history books, Lebensborn was
characterized by the systematic denial of
existential human needs and the very current
theme of the continuing effort to create the
In Berlin, in 1935, SS-Boss Heinrich Himmler
founded the "Lebensborn" program within a select
circle, to "protect the German bloodline." As part
of national-socialist racial policy, the "association"
set as its goal to provide support for the birth of
hundreds of thousands of "pure-blooded" children
to strengthen the Wehrmacht and the economy.
The "Lebensborn" program explicitly required
women to bear children out of wedlock;
SS officers had multiple "conception orders" and
were required to have at least four children each,
all out of wedlock. There were precise objectives:
"200 regiments per year," Heinrich Himmler
instructed, were to be recruited from the
Lebensborn children. From the beginning the
project was top-secret.
In the dark of night, Lebensborn maternity
stations were erected in rural areas, as in April
1938 in Pernitz, Lower Austria, where
"Lebensborn" employees were sworn to absolute
secrecy under threat of being sent to