Publisher Sourcebooks Landmark, Fall 2022
Jennifer Coburn‘s CRADLES OF THE REICH is a fictional account of young women of the Reich, based on true events, frighteningly reminiscent of Margret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale , this historical novel was inspired by the true and largely untold stories of the Lebensborn program, Himmler’s state-supported homes housing young women whose sole purpose was to give birth to pure blooded Aryan children, to be raised by SS families as future leaders of new Nazi Germany.
Told in alternating, points of view, CRADLES OF THE REICH is the story of three women at the Heim Hochland Lebensborn home in Bavaria just before the outbreak of the Second World War. The women seemingly have nothing in common but wind up radically altering the trajectories of one another’s lives. Gundi Schiller is a 20-year-old student from Berlin, and a member of the Nazi resistance movement. An Aryan beauty, she is forced to live at Heim Hochland after she finds herself pregnant. Not only does she despise the Nazis, but if her baby’s true paternity is revealed, her newborn’s life would be in jeopardy.
Hilde Kramer, on the other hand, is a true believer who has succeeded at little in her 18 years until she manages to seduce a high-ranking Nazi official, and is overjoyed about spending her pregnancy at Heim Hochland. She is as pathetic as she is cruel. Irma Binz is a 44-year-old nurse who, after a humiliating break up with her fiancé, accepts an offer to work at the maternity home. Initially naïve, she slowly comes to understand the true nature of the Lebensborn Society.