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Cradles of the Reich by Jennifer Coburn []



Based on historical events in Nazi Germany, this novel follows the lives of three women who intersect at Heim Hochland as part of the Lebensborn breeding program intended to help racially fit women produce Aryan babies for Hitler. Gundi is a university student involved in the resistance who finds herself pregnant by her activist Jewish boyfriend. Hilde is eighteen, underappreciated at home, devoted to Hitler’s regime, and eager to raise her status by having a Nazi official’s baby. Irma is a nurse who lost her fiancé and unborn child during the Great War, discovered her beau concealing a woman in his cellar, and needs the fresh start that working at Heim Hochland offers. Surrounded by looted art and antiques, sustained by the best food available, and subject to the whims of powerful men, these women find connections among the expectant mothers, “apprentice” mothers, and employees of the facility. When Gundi’s child is born with obviously non-Aryan characteristics, she learns of the potential consequences (euthanasia) and must seek help where she can. Parallels may be drawn between Nazi eugenics then and reproductive agency now, and the fundamental sexism of men making decisions about women’s bodies, providing ample topics for discussion groups.

For fans of The Lilac Girls, The Island of Sea Women, Call the Midwife, and World War II women’s stories.

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