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A new finding aid about the “Lebensborn” files

Today the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen published online a new finding aid about its collection of documents relating to "Lebensborn", a Nazi organisation that was operated by the SS. With a total of 529 files the ITS holds most of the original documents of the organisation such as the organisation's statutes signed by Heinrich Himmler. "The new finding aid will be particularly interesting for research purposes as the collection is largely unknown,” said archivist Karsten Kühnel, who manages the cataloguing of documents at the ITS. “The documents will provide a valuable insight into the internal structures of the organisation.”

The documents are the remains of the SS organisation's records saved from destruction in Upper Bavaria at the end of the war. “The files of the health department, the board of directors, and the extensive private correspondence of the "Lebensborn" chief physician and director of the organisation, Gregor Ebner, reflect the scope of race politics this SS organisation was involved in,” Kühnel explained. The aim of the organisation was to increase the birth-rate of “Aryan” children through anonymous births and adoptions, and to indoctrinate the children in Nazi ideology. Abducted children from territories occupied by the Germans that met the racist ideal of Nazi ideologues were also brought to "Lebensborn" homes.

In the summer of 1948 the ITS received the inventory from the Berlin Document Center because, after the end of the war, the Tracing Service was involved in clarifying the true identities of forcibly Germanised children. The files deal with the care and supervision given to mothers and children in the "Lebensborn" homes, in particular with issues such as the support of needy and single mothers, the conditions found during stays at the homes, problems with food supplies and medical provisions, medical issues as well as handling disabled children and those with behavioural problems. There are twenty-two relatively large files concerned with medical statistics and the records of "Lebensborn" personnel. In addition, the collection contains files on general administrative matters of the organisation and the homes, as well as files on building and property administration. 

The collection of the ITS is supplemented by about 100 “Lebensborn" files at the Federal Archives. “Those interested in the history and function of ‘Lebensborn’ can obtain information about the files of the ITS online now, enabling them to prepare in advance for a visit to the archives,” according to Kühnel. The new online finding aid at the ITS adds to its existing range of search tools which will be expanded further. Since the archives were opened to historical research four years ago, improved access to its document collections has become an urgent task for the ITS. The finding aid is available online at www.its-arolsen.org under archives/finding aids.