If you think you're childhood was traumatic then spare a thought for the Irish woman who discovered that she was born as part of a Nazi selective breeding program.
It's a story that seems unbelievable. You are raised an orphan in Sweden, move to Ireland and, at 64, discover you were born as part of a breeding program for the master race - one directly controlled by Himmler himself.
While it might seem the stuff of Hollywood thrillers that is the reality for Kari Rosvall. Born baby number I/5431 she was adopted in Sweden when a young child and never know anything about her origins. Later she moved to Ireland and became a citizen.
Curious about her origins she began to look for her past. And then one day a letter arrived containing the first picture she had ever seen of herself as a baby. A photograph taken by the Nazis.
That's how, at 64 years of age, she discovered that she was born as the result of a Nazi breeding programme during the second World War. Lebensborn, “the spring of life” programme, was a secret SS project designed to create a so-called Aryan race of blond-haired, blue-eyed children who would be the future leaders of the Third Reich. Kari Rosvall was one of those Lebensborn children.
The Lebensborn programme was the brainchild of Heinrich Himmler. Himmler was obsessed with eugenics and the idea of a master race. He once said, “Should we succeed in establishing this Nordic race, and from this seedbed produce a race of 200 million, then the world will belong to us”.
The program extended beyond Germany, into countries like Norway, where Nazi soldiers impregnated Aryan looking women. Kari’s mother was one of these women.
When she was just 10 days old, Kari was taken from her mother in Norway, packed in a crate and sent to Germany. There she was kept for the first year of her life with other children chosen for Himmler’s scheme in a Lebensborn home called Hohehorst.
When the war ended in 1945, everything changed. The children who were to be “the elite” suddenly became outcasts in every country. Nobody wanted this sinister reminder of Hitler’s regime. Manufactured by the Nazi war machine, Kari found herself homeless in the world, hidden in an attic with other Lebensborn children.
Even though the children themselves obviously had nothing to do with creating the program they were regarded as tainted by the world. However the Red Cross knew better and arranged a rescue of the children. After a period in an orphanage, she was adopted and grew up in Sweden and eventually found a home in Ireland.
Today she is a regular person living an ordinary life in Ireland. Imagine if you had received the news, would you have the strength of character to overcome the shock and tell your story? But that is what Kari has achieved and her story is told in a new book, "Nowhere's Child, written with journalist Naomi Lineman.
Nowhere's Child is available now from Amazon.com
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